PATIENTS with long-term or terminal illnesses who need to cross the Humber Bridge regularly to attend hospital appointments should travel for free for the first time later this summer, a council leader said yesterday.
A historic Bill to make the Humber Bridge “fit for the 21st century” received its Royal Assent earlier this year as part of a deal which halved charges for motorists.
It also allows the board to make concessions to certain groups like hospital patients.
Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Chris Shaw, said he wanted to see a system to allow patients to cross for free in place by the summer.
Coun Shaw said it had already “gone on long enough”, adding: “If you are having to have hospital treatment you are under enough stress without having to worry about bridge tolls.
“It was part of our agreement for us to take on part of the bridge debt. If the bridge are going to renege on our deal we may have to consider our agreement with them.”
Coun Shaw said he believed a voucher system administered by the NHS trusts which run hospitals on both sides of the river would be the simplest approach, with patients paying for their first trip and then receiving two tickets when they arrive for their appointment.
That would continue until the end of their treatment.
Although patients needing radiotherapy or chemotherapy have to pay up, those visiting relatives in prison in Hull are reimbursed by the Home Office – a situation which Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy has said “causes outrage locally”.
Coun Shaw said: “It is not rocket science; it doesn’t have to be difficult; it only has to be difficult if people make it difficult.
“I want to see it in place no later than the end of June, or July, at the latest.”
Bridgemaster Peter Hill said options for administering and implementing the system were going to be discussed by board members tomorrow. He added: “Nothing has been decided.”