Free transport service delivers good health
A free service ferrying Wairarapa people to and from appointments is potentially saving the health system tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Through Wairarapa Community Transport Services more than 2000 patient appointments are attended each year. Many of the appointments are at Wellington, Hutt and Kenepuru hospitals, and wouldn’t be possible were it not for the free transport service.
Funding from Trust House initiated the establishment of the service, set up as an incorporated society in 2004.
A substantial grant from Trust House and several other community trusts, enabled the purchase of two new vehicles.
Every two years since, additional grants have been awarded to help fund replacement vehicles.
A recent grant of $15,000 from the Trust House Foundation brings the trust’s total funding for the initiative to around $150,000.
Wairarapa DHB, Compass Health and Greater Wellington Regional Council also contribute to the service.
A former elected member of the Masterton Community Trust (previously known as the Masterton Licensing Trust) for more than three decades, Rick Long, was instrumental to setting up the Wairarapa Community Transport Services.
‘‘I was getting overwhelming complaints from people not being able to get to appointments and what could the trust do about it,’’ Long said.
It was ‘‘a stroke of luck’’ that when the society was set up [New Zealand] Red Cross jumped on board and opted to run it and provide volunteer drivers, Long said.
NZ Red Cross Masterton service centre administrator Sandy Grantham says a lack of transport can be a barrier for people getting to appointments.
‘‘It is a huge cost for them to get to an appointment, even for local appointments if it means having to take a taxi,’’ Grantham said.
Feedback from health service providers is that the free transport service has led to a big increase in returned appointments for people attending clinics, she said.
To access the service call the Masterton Red Cross service centre on (06)377-3586.
To ensure a vehicle and driver are available, it’s best to book as soon as you get your appointment.
Red Cross Masterton service centre administrator Sandy Grantham with volunteer drivers Richard Whitley and Lorraine Baker.