Bridport: Doubts linger over long term viability of hospital car service (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Bridport: Doubts linger over long term viability of hospital car service
Proposed changes to services on offer at Bridport’s Community Hospital have put the spotlight on the volunteer car service available for elderly or frail patients who in future may need to go much further afield for their treatment.
At last week’s full town council meeting members were told that a package of cuts at the hospital had been given the green light.
And councillors on the town’s environment and social wellbeing committee were asked to monitor the situation carefully.
Set to take effect in July, the changes include a reduction of 334 outpatient appointments, with theatre usage dropping from three to two days.
That would mean a significant number of patients having to go to Dorchester or Weymouth and Coun Ros Kayes said that the county council committee considering the issue had not taken into account a number of issues raised locally including transport solutions for people unable to make their own way to distant hospitals.
“The questions are: how much will it cost, where is the money coming from, how long will it last and is there the human resource for a voluntary transport system?” asked Coun Kayes, who is heading the community health campaign against the cuts, which is demanding that the scrutiny committee reconsiders its decision.
Coun Gillian Summers said that there had never been any intention to set up a new car scheme, but that the NHS would offer funding to appoint an officer to oversee the joint working of all the current transport groups and encouraging new volunteers in areas without cover. Mayor Coun David Rickard said he understood that volunteer drivers were not allowed to take ill people to hospital appointments because of insurance issues.
“We need real clarification as to whether the voluntary scheme is fit for purpose,” he added.
Coun Kayes added that the car service currently provided by the Dorset Partnership for Older People Programme (POPP), was also to help elderly people make visits, go shopping or to the dentist.
“The NHS is trying to find a way around this by taking money from existing POPP projects. What will happen if there is no more funding, two, three or four years down the line?”
Coun Rickard also reminded councillors that the NHS Dorset proposals for mental health care services are due to be on the agenda at next month’s health scrutiny committee.
“I would urge our committee to keep a watching brief on these issues,” he added.