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Making it easier to get to hospital in Buckinghamshire

29/07/15

After hearing that people were struggling to get to hospital appointments due to problems with local transport, Healthwatch Buckinghamshire decided to investigate.

Rural bus stop

We spoke to Victoria Young from Healthwatch Buckinghamshire to find out more.

What made you investigate the issue?

One of the most frequently mentioned problems we hear about is the difficulty people face is travelling to hospital. This is despite changes being made back in 2011 to the configuration of hospital services in Buckinghamshire and new services being funded to improve travel to hospital, so we wanted to see if this had made a difference.

What did patients tell you?

Our volunteers spoke to over 400 people about their experiences getting to and from hospital appointments and heard some really shocking stories. Parking was a major issue, with some people arriving up to an hour before their appointments to find a parking space and then having to pay high parking charges. There were also instances where people parked over a mile away from the hospital and walked in due to lack of car parking space. People felt extremely stressed about driving and parking at the hospitals and we heard from people who have considered not attending appointments as a result.

Those without access to a car had to rely on public transport, which often meant facing a lengthy and complex journey because bus routes are not direct to hospitals. We heard from a patient who needs to attend hospital for regular dialysis treatment who said that his journey would require two buses on the way to the hospital and three buses back. We also heard from an elderly lady who would often have to spend four hours attending a ten minute appointment at a GP surgery only a mile and a half down the road due to a lack of public transport options.

What happened as a result?

We have made a series of recommendations including:

  • A review of the current car parking situation at Wycombe, Amersham and Wexham Park Hospitals
  • A review of community car schemes and how they can be improved
  • Making people more aware of the transport options and schemes available when booking their appointment
  • Greater co-ordination between health and care providers,transport providers and Buckinghamshire County Council

Transport providers and Transport for Buckinghamshire and Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust have welcomed our findings and recognised that the issues we’ve identified need further attention. It has also been presented at our local Health and Social Care Committee, with many committee members acknowledging that the report is a very accurate reflection of patients’ experiences. We are currently working to increase awareness of transport options and schemes for those who have specific transport difficulties.

Read the full report on Healthwatch Buckinghamshire’s website.

If you have problems accessing hospitals in your area, contact your local Healthwatch and let them know.

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