Hospital Officials To Be Questioned Over Patient Escorts

skybus-planes-at-airportCouncillors say recent changes to travel arrangements are putting the health of vulnerable island patients at risk.

And officials from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust will be summoned to a special Council meeting to discuss the matter urgently.

Jane Hurd from Scilly’s Healthwatch told members of the recent Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that patients who were infirm or unwell used to be able to take an escort along to help them on the journey.

But last September, RCHT withdrew that option.

Instead, they now provide ambulance transport from Land’s End to Treliske and back.

That’s fine, says Jane, unless flying is interrupted by bad weather. That means the patient has to find a B&B and stay there alone until they can travel.

The Council’s Emergency Planning Officer Dan Marcus says there’s now anecdotal evidence that people are refusing to take appointments because they’re unsure whether they can get back.

Jane told councillors that RCHT seem to be struggling to understand that while mainland patients are guaranteed a bed back at home after their appointment, that’s not happening for islanders.

Healthwatch has been requesting a meeting with RCHT managers “for some time,” she said, but they hadn’t managed to get anywhere.

So they decided to refer it to the Health Committee, a decision they “didn’t take lightly,” said Jane.

The committee has the power to take the matter all the way to the Secretary of State if they feel nothing is being resolved.

Former island GP, Cllr Adrian Davis, said RCHT needs to do something immediately, because “it could be tomorrow that someone has their health damaged because of transport issues.”

He said they should demand that RCHT officials attend a special meeting of the committee.

“There’s no reason why RCHT should not provide proper services to safeguard the health of our community,” said Adrian.

Councillors voted to call a special meeting of the committee so RCHT could be pressed for a resolution to the problem.