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Issues with transport to primary healthcare services highlighted in Healthwatch Lancashire report

Healthwatch Lancashire has published a report summarising responses to a survey from people in Lancashire about transport to primary healthcare service.

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A “Your Care and Getting There” report has been published by Healthwatch Lancashire based on the findings from a survey undertaken by 742 residents of Lancashire to identify issues relating to how they get to appointments in primary care services which include GPs, dentists, health centres and pharmacies.

The report shows that across Lancashire 88% of people said that they find getting to their appointment convenient whilst 15.6% of people said that they have had to cancel appointments due to transport issues.

24.9% of people who do not travel to their appointments by car said that they were concerned for the cost of transport with Chorley (32.4%), Burnley (28.6%) and Lancaster (28.2%) receiving the highest percentages of people who are concerned about the cost of getting to appointments.

The survey aimed to find out how people travel to appointments and gather details on convenience, cost and how this affects their experience.

Responses to the survey were gathered by Healthwatch Lancashire in a variety of locations across Lancashire including at public events, in GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and through community group workshops.

Members of the public using community transport services were also given the opportunity to have their say when members of the Healthwatch Lancashire team listened to their views whilst joining them on the journey to their appointments.

The report shows that 56% of people who used community transport said that they had an issue with timing and 37% of people did not describe their experience as positive.

57% of people who were given lifts to their appointment by friends or family said that they are concerned about inconveniencing those who gave them a lift.

The main themes of concern from those who travel to appointments by car are cost of petrol, traffic problems and parking.

Healthwatch Lancashire Communications Manager, Neil Greaves, commented: “Healthwatch Lancashire would like to thank the people who shared their views and experiences about getting to their appointments along with our dedicated volunteers who made a significant contribution to the project.”

Healthwatch Lancashire gathered a number of stories from people in Lancashire whilst carrying out the survey.

Healthwatch Lancashire heard from Ron in West Lancashire who shared his experience of getting to an appointment at the eye clinic for an operation. Ron said, “A taxi would have cost too much to the hospital and home again.”

“I tried to arrange community transport but I found it extremely difficult. Services need to be more joined up and communicate with each other to improve a patient’s journey.”

Healthwatch Lancashire spoke to Ravensthorpe Residents’ Association in Chorley, which includes residents aged between 55 and 93. Members of the group said: “We’ve had our bus service taken away recently and it has impacted directly on our ability to attend healthcare appointments.”

Healthwatch Lancashire spoke to David from Helmshore in Rossendale. David said: “The troubles we face here in Haslingden are mainly due to the infrastructure of the roads.”

“It makes it very difficult to get anywhere as there are always congested roads and queues of traffic at peak times. Local journeys in-and-out of Rossendale Valley have excessive journey times compared to the actual distance travelled.”

To view the report, please click here