THE opening hours of the cashier’s office at the Alexandra Hospital have been ‘temporarily’ cut from five days a week to just three.
In a move that came into force at the beginning of April the office will be closed on a Thursday or Friday.
It means that any patient on benefits trying to claim a reimbursement on those days will have to go through social services.
This could lead to a delay of four to six week before they get their money back, instead of cash over the counter.
“I visit the hospital often for appointments and I noticed that the office is now closed on a Thursday and Friday,” said one Redditch resident.
“You can take a form to make a claim through social services but that takes weeks to come through.”
The system operates through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme and enables patients on low income or benefits the opportunity to claim a refund for reasonable travel costs.
For this they need to show proof of benefits or income and their appointment card.
Health campaigner Ian Johnson said: “This is just ridiculous – how many more cuts in service are we going to suffer at the Alexandra Hospital?
“Everything the health Trust has done at the Alex since 2012 has been ‘temporary’ and we know that that quickly becomes permanent.”
A spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The opening hours of the cashier’s office at the Alexandra Hospital have been temporarily reduced. Eligible patients requiring reimbursement of travel costs are able to claim during office opening times (Monday to Wednesday 9am to 1pm and 1.30pm until 4.30pm) or by using the appropriate forms available from the hospital main reception or Job Centre, during other times. Claims can also be made at the Cashier’s Office at the Trust’s other sites within a three month period.”