Too much a TRIP - outpatients say they can't afford cost of community transport

PUBLISHED: 14:47 29 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:33 15 June 2010

BETTER transport links to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is the key to the future well-being of Honiton that's what older residents told the newly appointed manager of health and social services for the town.

BETTER transport links to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is the key to the future well-being of Honiton - that's what older residents told the newly appointed manager of health and social services for the town.Car crash victim Lauren Dunlop Humphrey told Geraldine Benson, during a public meeting in the town last week, that she is no longer able to afford to use TRIP Community Transport Association for regular visits to a diabetic clinic in Exeter.The clinic is based on a site at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, but is nowhere near existing bus stops."I can get there via TRIP, but the cost is £18. I can't possibly afford £18," said Ms Humphrey."Although I can claim some of that back, I have to fill in a form and send in a receipt."Recently, I've been catching a train and then a bus - but the bus stop is nowhere near the diabetic clinic."The perception, at least, was that it is easier and quicker to claim back fares from public transport than services provided by community groups.Members of the public told the meeting, held in the Mackarness Hall last Thursday afternoon, that it is no wonder Honiton has the highest rate in Devon of people not turning up for outpatient and follow-up appointments.Councillor Vernon Whitlock, a former mayor of Honiton and chairman of Honiton Senior Council, told the meeting that transport is a major issue in the town.He said talks had recently taken place with bus service providers and that a suggestion was put forward for a regular and direct bus service to Exeter, with a stop en-route to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital."A lot of people in the town are struggling to get to the hospital," said senior council member Tony Smith.Neil Hurlock, manager of TRIP Community Transport Association, who was at the meeting, said his budget was shrinking.He has recently had to open up the Honiton and District Ring and Ride service to the wider population - after bookings dramatically tailed off following the introduction of the new free bus pass.A member of the public, who has one of the new passes, said she rarely used it and that, perhaps, the scheme should revert to a half price fare - so money saved could be reinvested in hospital transport.n Ms Benson met with older residents to gauge their views on new policies to bring health and social care services closer together. Turn to page 7 for more news from the event.What do you think? Have your say in a forum on this website


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