Patients highlight transport problems

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People in Fenland who don’t have a car are experiencing growing difficulties in accessing healthcare, especially when it involves hospital appointments, new research shows.

Between May and August 2011 nearly 1,500 people completed patient transport questionnaires that were available in GP surgeries and hospitals in Fenland.

Nearly 200 people said they had difficulty getting to hospitals in Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Huntingdon and Cambridge.

Research days at North Cambridgeshire hospital in Wisbech also showed that many of those without a car did not know how to find out about the various transport choices.

The findings are included in “Access to Healthcare in Fenland”, a new report from the Fenland Strategic Partnership’s Transport and Access Group (TAG).

The report is available now in the four Fenland @ your service shops, GP surgeries and hospitals and on Fenland District Council’s website.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for strategic transport, thanked the GP surgeries and hospitals for their help with the project and all those who completed the questionnaires.

“We are extremely pleased with the level of response and the very detailed information that people have given us,” he said. “Without this assistance it would not have been possible to publish such detailed results.

“This research has provided important evidence to help us understand exactly what difficulties local residents are facing when accessing healthcare by public transport. We can now concentrate on delivering a programme of improvements to address the issues.”

The group’s work will now focus on:

Improving access by bus to Peterborough City Hospital

Developing case studies to help people who have access difficulties or do not know what transport is available

Working with the NHS to coordinate information for healthcare workers and patients

Improving access to Wisbech for people living in nearby villages

Establishing focus groups with patients covering areas where extra information is needed

The report contains detailed maps showing existing bus routes. Developed by FDC, they highlight several key problems, including:

Many patients have no alternative to using a car as there is limited public transport available in their village

Parson Drove’s GP surgery has a very big cross-boundary catchment area. Patients travel there from Lincolnshire and Norfolk but there is no public transport from most of the places they are coming from

Patients going to North Cambridgeshire Hospital by bus have to walk across the dual carriageway from the Horsefair bus station, posing problems for many people who are poorly or unable to walk very well

The Transport and Access Group includes representatives from a range of organisations including FDC, NHS Cambridgeshire, Care Network, FACT and Cambridgeshire County Council.

For more information, contact FDC’s planning policy team on 01354-654321, e-mail neighbourhoodstrategy@fenland.gov.uk or visit www.fenland.gov.uk/article/2179/Public-Transport

Details of existing public and community transport are included in the Fenland Transport Directory and the “Getting from A to B” case studies, published earlier this year. They are available at www.fenland.gov.uk/article/2179/Public-Transport