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.

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