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.

6 Responses to Island Patients Still Struggling To Reach Medical Appointments

  1. Pat March 3, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I had to fly last year for an appointment, and was forced to leave the day before as the clinic I had been referred to at Trelisk was only open one day a week on a morning. I had to wait 3 weeks (2 failed attempts) before I was finally able to get away – and that was when Land’s End was open! I find the overnight stay costs the biggest problem; I certainly wasn’t ill enough to stay in the hospital overnight and had to find a guest house.

  2. Barry Bumfrey February 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    The ISSco is a monopoly, like they care what the customer wants.
    Far better to run the company to suit the company, because they’re still going to make money because there is ‘no’ alternative.

  3. Dottie February 28, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I don’t live in Scilly…I’m just one of thousands of people who love the islands and visit when we can. Clearly, due to the situation of the islands, response to health issues that need more than can be provided locally is much less than expected, and experienced by main-landers. I had no particular issue with the withdrawal of the helicopter service – other than that I enjoyed arriving in the islands that way! But now I understand how much islanders are missing it. The service wasn’t perfect I know – but did seem to be much more available…….and was helpful in getting islanders to the mainlaid more easily – though I felt the cost should have been minimal for them! Heck! Don’t have an answer – just hope my pals in Scilly don’t have to rely on the Scillonian or Skybus to get them to live-saving treatment on the mainland. Also hope the Health Centre has everything possible to help them preserve,and save lives.

  4. John Headon February 27, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Surely this requires the whole elected Council to descend on the IOSSC board / managing director and demand action?

  5. anon patient February 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    It is so stressful now getting to critical appointments. Even thinking of leaving a few days before,despite incurring extra expense means you can’t even guarantee you will get there. I have had recent cancer follow up appointments which are really stressful in themselves and the extra worry of whether I will even get there results in panic attacks at the airport waiting to see if I will fly or not or the plane will turn around when I’m nearly there.

    I’m not passing blame to anyone but just want people to realise how hard it can be for patients and their families. I have even put off querying a lump because I could not face getting to Treliske. But many many thanks to the all the health centre staff and to everyone at Treliske who really have been fantastic. Also to the staff who reorganise flights and also to Carol for all the hard work and championing that she puts in on everyone’s behalf.

  6. John Allsop February 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Did the earlier plane fly empty? Changing the time of the first plane so patients might miss their appointment and visitors who catch the train may also miss it does help customer relations and the experience of some visitors! You want visitors to come back, not give them a problem on their return home.