Island Patients Still Struggling To Reach Medical Appointments

hospital  nhs sign 2The manager of Scilly’s Healthwatch organisation says she’s “despondent” that island patients are still struggling to get to mainland medical appointments.

Carol Clarke was speaking to members of the Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

She said the recent bad weather and closure of Land’s End airport has resulted in islanders missing or declining to attend clinics because of the difficulty getting to the hospitals.

She says it feels like they’re moving backwards rather than forwards, despite a huge amount of work.

Carol said it’s been impossible for patients travelling via Newquay Airport this winter to use public transport to make appointments in a single day.

Skybus planes have been diverted to Newquay since Christmas because the runways at Land’s End are waterlogged.

Using a taxi would give them a limited two-hour window to see a doctor, she says, but the round trip costs about £30.

Carol says people aren’t going, simply because they can’t.

Some clinics held on St Mary’s have also been disrupted, with no X-rays being performed for three weeks and no alternative visits scheduled.

And there could be similar problems in the months ahead.

Carol says changes to Skybus’ summer schedule, with the first planes now leaving St Mary’s an hour later at 9.10am, means people will struggle to catch the 10am bus or train to Truro from Penzance.

The time window for an appointment will be reduced from 4 hours to 3.

Carol told councillors that “after all this work, a simple thing like flight scheduling” is again having a negative effect on patients.

But she added that Treliske Hospital has been very understanding and helpful, quickly rearranging the missed clinics.

Cllr Richard McCarthy said the new flight times will have a knock on effect for tourists too. If they can’t make the 10am train, the next one up country will be at 2pm, he said.

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