‘NHS trust has a responsibility on patient transport’

conquest hospital SUS-141120-111631001
conquest hospital SUS-141120-111631001

Polegate MP Norman Baker has called for a dedicated transport system to get people to hospital.

He told the House of Commons his constituents are sometimes asked to make extraordinarily long journeys to Hastings.

The town’s Conquest Hospital is nowhere near the train station, he said, and is very difficult to get to.

Mr Baker, leading a Parliamentary debate on local health care concerns on Friday, said, “We have already seen maternity services transferred there – by sleight of hand, I might say – with a so-called temporary transfer which then became permanent, bypassing the normal consultation arrangements, not to mention bypassing public opinion.”

He continued, “If, at least for the short term, my constituents are required to travel a very long way for very basic services, which I hope will change, the NHS trust in Eastbourne and Hastings which has been responsible for that situation needs to take some responsibility for the transport implications.

“Will the Minister set out what he believes are the responsibilities of the NHS trusts which generate extra transport requirements, but then wash their hands of the consequences and say it is a matter for the county council as the transport authority, the commercial bus company, the rail company or somebody else – anybody apart from them – to pick up the pieces?

“The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, which also runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, has accepted that there is a need to do something about that. It has organised a bus running between Brighton and Haywards Heath, which is a good service used by patients and by those who work in the health service as well.

“No such arrangement has been put in place between Eastbourne and Hastings and I want to know why not. It is not sufficient to say that people can get the bus, because my constituents sometimes have to pay extraordinary amounts of money to get taxis from where they live to Hastings, and no money is paid back.

“Some of these are poor people who cannot afford to pay for taxis. That is an outrageous situation for them to be in. I ask for the Minister’s help in dealing with that important transport issue. I hope he will accept the principle that if an NHS trust causes a transport problem, it has a responsibility to deal with it, rather than washing its hands and pushing it on to somebody else.”