Public Meeting Tackles Medical Travel Issues

Tuesday’s meeting in the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Locals packed into the Old Wesleyan Chapel on Tuesday night to hear how the NHS, Council, LINk4Scilly and the Steamship Company aim to tackle transport challenges for less able passengers now British International Helicopters have stopped their helicopter service.

After Saturday’s final sailing of the season, refurbishment of the passenger areas of the Scillonian III will begin on Monday.

Company commercial manager Nick Sanders says some enhancements will make travel more comfortable for less mobile islanders and visitors. He said they’ll be installing a lift to make accessing the main deck easier for those with reduced mobility, together with anchor points for wheelchairs. The whole layout of the public areas will also be remodelled.

After the potential for a year-round boat service was raised, Nick said that would be down to economics. Plans were already in place to work on the Scillonian III this winter so it wouldn’t be available to sail anyway

St Mary’s resident Mary Ratcliffe was concerned that fixed-wing flights could be suspended for consecutive days in poor weather, stranding locals, but Mr Sanders said the weather was out of their control.

Merryn Smith wanted to know whether technology and navigational aids could be used so flights would be less susceptible to cancelation in reduced visibility. Nick said the location at Land’s End meant beacons would need to be out in the sea, although a GPS and satellite solution was being investigated. The ceiling for low visibility could be raised but pilots still need to see where they were going, he said.

Attendees wanted to know whether the grass runway at Land’s End could be hardened to prevent disruption from waterlogging. Nick said they’d look into that in the future, but the company felt there’d likely be objections.

Mr Sanders said the Steamship Company had found itself in a situation that it had never planned for, but they’d worked rapidly to deal with any additional demands since the end of the rotary service was announced.


2 Responses to Public Meeting Tackles Medical Travel Issues

  1. Kim Hopkins November 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    when my mum was sick on the mainland, her and my dad spent a lot of time being sent between truro and penzance and scilly trying to get a diagnosis, during some of this time she had to ‘sleep’ in the guest lounge of a penzance hotel as a regular bed did not offer her back the support she needed and there was no suitable chair in the room. not anything to do with travel really, but links into mary’s point a bit, it would have been so great to have had somewhere suitable for her to stay… although i suppose that probably would have been a hospital but thats a whole different point.

  2. mary ratcliffe November 2, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Mary Ratcliffe

    My question was ” What can be done to help seriously ill patients find accommodation when they arrive at Land’s End and the weather prevents flying?” I was recently at the airport and saw the distress caused to a patient.
    I was pleased at the meeting to hear that soon Link4Scilly will provide a card with telephone numbers for patients to ring. Whilst these offers to help are good Truro is a long way to travel back to.
    Hopefully some kind people in Penzance will also be able to offer a bed. Commercial B and B’s though excellent are not a very suitable alternative for some patients.