Healthwatch Report Says Winter Travel Was ‘Very Concerning’

skybus twin otters

Patients travelling to the mainland last winter for medical treatment have described their experiences as a ‘nightmare’, ‘appalling’ and a ‘shambles.’

Those are some of the experiences contained in a report from Scilly’s Healthwatch organisation, published this week, which describes the delays to treatment experienced by some patients as ‘very concerning.’

The health watchdog ran a questionnaire during the first three months of 2013, which logged 86 responses from patients.

It revealed that 25% of respondents were unable to arrange travel for the first appointment offered to them by the hospital because of lack of seat availability, even when booking up to four weeks in advance.

And 20% were unable to attend on the day because of delays and had to re-arrange their appointment.

Skybus was unable to use Land’s End airport for long periods last winter due to water logging of the runways, and flights were diverted to Newquay airport.

Healthwatch says many people spoke of the worry and stress involved in making last minute changes to flights and surface transport to enable them to make their appointments.

They say the high incidence of delays to treatment is unacceptable and must not happen again.

However, the majority of people who were delayed did manage to attend their appointment, either because the clinic was accommodating to their late arrival or because they had allowed for delays when planning their journey.

Most travellers incorporated a night or two away into their travel plans, often involving considerable extra cost, which is borne by the patient.

But not all problems were weather-related, with several people reporting problems getting through to the RCHT Transport Office to book their flights.

Healthwatch say they appreciate the response of the NHS, the Council and Steamship Group, who worked together to deal with the challenges at a time when a number of factors contributed to the unprecedented level of travel disruption.

But they want Skybus to review the timing of their flights, to allow more people to travel to and from appointments in a single day. They also want improvements to surface transfers from Newquay airport and more assistance for people with limited mobility.

A winter boat service a few times a week, and more provision of treatment on the islands to reduce travel have also been recommended.

The full report is available at the Healthwatch website.

One Response to Healthwatch Report Says Winter Travel Was ‘Very Concerning’

  1. pete hicks May 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    i can only speak for my own experiences this winter concerning my trips away for scans,,assessments,operation and follow up clinics and i cant praise the various health departments and the steamship company enough for the brilliant service i’ve encountered.
    I have never had anything but helpful assistance with the patient transport in treliske , sometimes its taken a few attempts to get through but as they are busy its understandable.
    i always phone them after looking at flights available first so have a good idea of which ones i’d prefer so i imagine making their life easier.
    Skybus have got me away short notice and squeezed me onto earlier flights the one time there was a fog delay, so i made it over in time and the bus driver and other passengers have allowed me to be dropped off first, which has been fantastic and much appreciated.
    The TAPS car i used the once was brilliant and on time and easy to book and a pleasant guy called tim dropped me off at lands end.
    The staff and consultants at hayle were/are brilliant with appointments running on time and allowing me enough time to get up and back from lands end.
    thank you all very much