LINk To Monitor New Medical Travel System

The way patients from the Isles of Scilly are discharged from mainland hospitals will dominate discussions between the Islands’ Health watchdog LINk and senior NHS managers on July 5th.

LINk has tabled proposals for improvement based on locals’ suggestions and complaints and LINk officer, Carol Clarke, says it’s been agreed that islanders need special assistance when they leave hospital.

But not all the Trust’s 5,000 staff are aware of that.

Islanders registered at our healthcentre should be given free transport to Scilly if they are evacuated. But Carol says anyone being discharged to return to the islands should be offered travel advice and information.

She said it’s awful to expect an elderly person, often with no money or knowledge of the system, to make their way back here, whether they are residents or not.

Carol says the agreed guidelines are clear and staff must offer assistance.

ScillyToday has heard that some patients waiting to fly back to the islands have had to sit in the departure lounge wearing dressing gowns. Carol says that may be because the health workers haven’t thought through transferring a patient between a mainland hospital and a ward on St Marys. They don’t understand that public transport is involved in the transfer.

There have also been complaints that the new medical warrant booking system favours Skybus bookings.

Carol says staff at RCHT have access to the Skybus booking system at the moment but you will still be able to use your preferred carrier once you have your warrant number. If staff have offered to arrange travel in planes it’s just because they are being helpful, she says.

Carol says there will be problems that only become apparent now the system is live. They hope to iron those out in three months when they sit around the table with RCHT to assess the new medical warrant system.

And that’s why she wants user feedback at LINk.

LINk is aware of most areas of concern over patient transport and access and they are highlighted in their Medical Travel report on their website.

Carol says her plan is to tackle each point raised in the report with senior NHS hospital, ambulance and commissioning managers at their meeting on 5th of July.

The report has the support of the RCHT Chief Executive.

Carol says the managers understand the issues but LINk has to keep ‘chipping away’ at problems. And to do that, she needs evidence, she says.