Off-island travel to St Marys for pre-arranged medical appointments

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Isles of Scilly undertook a survey of people’s experiences of off-island (ie  from Tresco, St Martins, St Agnes and Bryher) medical travel to St Marys for pre-planned appointments.  10 people responded to their survey.

Nearly half of responses were for travelling for a doctors appointment at the Health Centre. 18% of responses were for travelling for a medical consultation at the hospital. Over a third of responses were for travelling for other reasons which were for dentistry, asthma clinic, blood clinic and for an injection. Wednesday saw most respondents travel to St Mary’s for medical appointments. The majority of respondents booked a special boat to travel across. Three in ten found it either difficult or extremely difficult to arrange. Over three quarters indicated that they have had to cancel an appointment on St Mary’s because they were unable to travel.

All three respondents who said they found the process of arranging travel to their appointment on St Mary’s either difficult or extremely difficult provided more detail around this. The general theme was that getting a scheduled boat was impossible or very difficult and it was very expensive to travel across in winter.

The majority of the reasons for respondents cancelling appointments were due to the weather conditions, meaning that boats could not travel. Tide was also mentioned which affects boating times. The cost of the boat was mentioned several times as a reason for cancelling appointments.

Additional comments made reference once again to the cost of getting across to St Mary’s for appointments and that it is very expensive. One person felt that the cost of boating should never be a barrier to accessing healthcare and another person said that it is very expensive and unobtainable for them due to a lack of scheduled boats. One person also commented that during winter it is very expensive and residents are limited to accessing appointments on a Thursday between 09:45 and 13:00, when a scheduled boat runs. A couple of comments stated that getting across for an appointment can mean a lengthy wait out in the cold, depending on appointment time.

The report makes four recommendations about the timing of appointments for people living on the off-islands and the cost of special and frequency of scheduled boat services .

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General details

Report title 
Off-island travel to St Marys for pre-arranged medical appointments
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Isles of Scilly
Date of publication 
Thursday, 29 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 December, 2020
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Cost of services
Quality of patient transport

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Other services 
Patient transport

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
25-64 years
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.