Travelling for health and social care

Comment piece by Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, for Wigan Observer

At NHS Wigan Borough CCG, we spend a lot of time discussing how we can make our services work for local people.

It’s really important to us that patients and residents are involved in planning services. After all, they are the real experts who understand how services really work on the ground and can make sure we think of all the important details that make a service easy to use.  So we spend lots of time out in the community talking to people and getting their ideas.

When talking to people about services a common theme often emerges – travel and transport!

Unless you travel around the Borough you may not appreciate just how vast it is: hint, it’s a pretty huge 77 square miles! If you receive an appointment at the other side of the Borough and you don’t have access to transport it could cause you some real difficulties. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to jump in the car or get a lift from friends or family.

The sheer cost of travelling can be a barrier for some too. Taxis are expensive and some parts of the Borough have poor transport links which can mean multiple buses and fares.

We also know it can be difficult for people living with a disability. We recently heard a story from someone who spent a week trying to find a taxi service that would be able to transport her wheelchair at the time of day she needed. Being able to book a taxi when we need one is something most of us would take for granted. For this person it was a hassle that made going to a health appointment far worse than it needed to be.

We’ve also heard stories from people who have had to let the bus go past if the wheelchair bay is already taken up. You can just imagine the stress levels rising as you think about getting to that appointment on time!

So, as we look to improve how people access health and care services over the next few years we really need to think about how patients and residents travel across the Borough. We need to get a better understanding of some of the common issues people can experience. Only then can we take it into account when we think about where best to locate services in the future.

These are the things that we want to talk to you about and really get under the skin of.

Between now and the end of March 2020 we’ll be inviting patients and residents to talk with us, complete a short online survey, or to share a story. If you live in the Borough we’d really love for you to get involved.

To take part please get in touch with a member of our Engagement Team on 01942 482711 or shapeyournhs@wiganboroughccg.nhs.uk. You can also find more information about this project by clicking here.