On Wednesday, I questioned Edwina Hart about the transport costs people living in rural Powys face in accessing health care.
I pay tribute to the many charities, organisations and volunteers who help provide transport to patients, particularly from Powys to Shropshire and Herefordshire.
It can be a long journey from towns and communities such as Rhayader, Nantmel and so on. The Institute of Rural Health has found examples of patients having to pay return taxi fares of up to £70 for a round trip when an ambulance was not appropriate and when they were unable to access Dial-a-Ride.
I asked the Minister if she has given any thought as to how these sorts of costs can be met.
These are often old or vulnerable people who have no way of finding that sort of money and who, therefore, are not accessing the treatment that they need.
In reply, Edwina Hart said:
“We have to recognise the cross-border dimension in rural Powys with regard to these particular issues. I am more than happy to take this matter up and will come back to members on it, because it raises points of real concern.”
I welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that there is a problem and look forward to her coming forward with proposals to help elderly and vulnerable people in rural Powys meet the transport costs incurred in accessing health care.