Covid Scotland: £5m fund launched for Sick Kids patients

A new £5 million fund has been launched to support families of young people in hospital.

Public health minister Maree Todd announced the Young Patients Family Fund during a visit to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh on Monday.

The fund, which is an extension of a similar pot for premature babies, will offer cash to cover travel, food and overnight accommodation expenses for the parents and siblings of young people in hospital.

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Public health minister Maree Todd

Ms Todd said: “When a hospital stay is necessary, families want to focus on the health and wellbeing of their child, without the worry of the financial costs around being there for them.

“This fund will provide support when it is most needed and is an extension of our Neonatal Expenses Fund, which covers costs for the parents of sick or premature newborn babies.

“The Young Patients Family Fund extends the support to cover the families of all inpatients from birth up to the age of 18.”

Allister Short, the service director for women’s and children’s services at NHS Lothian, said : “When a child or young person requires a stay in hospital, it can be a really challenging time for them and their family, and anything that helps to reduce this stress is a really welcome step.

“This new fund really will make a big difference for families not just here in Lothian, but across Scotland.”

Deborah Robertson, 41, mother to 10-year-old Zak Robertson who has cystic fibrosis, said that there is definitely financial strain when her son has to stay at the hospital.

She said: “It’s so easy to just go to the shops and buy a sandwich or a packet of crisps or a coffee and just tap your card, that’s what you’re having to do just to survive really, to eat and get through the day.

"But then you look at your bank account and see the money quickly dwindling away and you start to wonder whether or not you're going to be able to pay the bills.”

Zak has been in hospital receiving daily treatment for five weeks, after being admitted for what was supposed to be just a four week stay.

He said: “I’ve been going through a lot of pain and agony over the last few weeks, so it’s not been the best being stuck in hospital.

"I like playing Minecraft and talking to my friends on my Ipad but I haven’t really been out much.”

Caroline Lee-Davey, the chief executive of Bliss Scotland, a charity supporting the families of premature or sick babies, said: “This new fund will now mean that parents of premature and sick babies who need hospital care once their neonatal treatment is over will continue to be supported throughout their hospital journey.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure the fund meets the needs of families and will keep campaigning for the other UK nations to introduce similar support for families with a baby in neonatal care.”

The commitment has been part of the Scottish Government’s 100 days plan published by the SNP in the lead-up to May’s election.

The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People officially opened on March 23 after extended delays.

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