HEALTHWATCH OFFICER CLARIFIES POST-16 ESCORT STATUS
Healthwatch Officer Carol Clarke has attempted to clarify the status of escort warrants for over 16s
Some islands' parents recently expressed concern after discovering that 16-18 year olds do not have automatic entitlement to an escort warrant when attending a medical appointment on the mainland. Under 18s are considered children by the UN.
One mother wrote on social media: "[It's] a huge safeguarding issue when your schoolchild can't get home because of the weather. In whose care will they be then??"
She later added: "When a child turns 16 they have a right to not have a parent present at medical appointments... However, it is the parent's duty of care to get the child to and from that appointment, especially considering where we live with the travel issues."
Carol Clarke told This is Scilly: "Under 16 year olds are automatically eligible for an escort warrant, this has always been, and still is, the case. We’re not sure that there has ever been automatic entitlement to an escort travel warrant for 16-18 year olds, but authorisation was given in practice.
"About 4 or 5 years ago Link4Scilly got agreement from the NHS that parents of under 18-year-old students on the mainland could have an escort travel warrant from Scilly if the young person required them to attend an appointment.
"In 2015, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust reviewed their escort guidelines. The guidelines came to the Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) that year. There was an anomaly in the guidance which still contained a reference to escort warrants for mainland students, but there was no automatic entitlement to an escort warrant for 16-18 year olds. The Patient Transport Manager said this would be corrected and that the intention was to remove automatic authorisation for escorts for 16-18 year olds.
"Healthwatch discussed the matter with the NHS and we accept that there is a conflict between a 16-year-old's right to privacy and an individual's need for a parent/carer to accompany them. We have also discussed the safeguarding aspect of a young person, alone, needing to find accommodation on the mainland in order to attend an appointment or if they are unable to return the same day.
"Advice from the NHS was that all requests would be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Any decision regarding a patient or escort travel warrant can be appealed to the RCHT Patient Transport Manager. We would advise families in this situation to speak to the Patient Transport Manager and also Patient Advice and Liaison Service at RCHT.
"Meanwhile, advice has been sought on the safeguarding aspect, and we will ask for a further review of guidance via the IOS Medical Travel and Transport Group."