Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poyn­ton, and ex­ec­u­tive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG). THE main job of a CCG is to plan and buy a wide range of health ser­vices and work with providers to en­sure the best out­comes for pa­tients.

How­ever, we have other am­bi­tions too – in­clud­ing do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to make it eas­ier for peo­ple to ac­cess health­care and other vi­tal public ser­vices.

Con­ve­nient pas­sen­ger trans­port is a chal­lenge in ar­eas like eastern Cheshire.

Around half the pop­u­la­tion lives in the coun­try­side, where there are greater dis­tances to travel and less con­cen­trated de­mand for public trans­port.

We are part of Cheshire East, the third largest uni­tary author­ity in the north west.

That’s why we’ve agreed to part­ner with Cheshire East Coun­cil and neigh­bour­ing NHS South Cheshire CCG on a £450,000 scheme to im­prove how ru­ral pas­sen­ger trans­port ser­vices work to­gether.

The money was awarded to the coun­cil by the Depart­ment for Trans­port from its To­tal Trans­port Pi­lot Fund.

It will pay for a study of how to im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of pas­sen­ger trans­port ser­vices bought by the public sec­tor.

The Trans­port and Ru­ral In­te­gra­tion in Cheshire East (TRICE) study will in­ves­ti­gate join­ing up: ●● Flex­i­ble bus and minibus ser­vices, funded by the coun­cil, with non-emer­gency pa­tient trans­port ser­vices paid for by the CCGs. ●● Health and ed­u­ca­tion taxi ser­vices funded by the CCGs and coun­cil re­spec­tively. ●● Main­stream home-tos­chool trans­port con­tracts and fixed-route sup­ported bus ser­vices paid for by the coun­cil.

The aim is to get more from ex­ist­ing ser­vices.

For ex­am­ple, off-peak bus ser­vices might be used for non-emer­gency pa­tient trans­port while non-emer­gency trans­port un­der­used at school peak times could be used to pro­vide home-to-school trips.

The pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing com­mu­nity car schemes to pro­vide school and pa­tient trans­port will also be con­sid­ered.

The study will mea­sure how easy it is to ac­cess health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and shop­ping in ru­ral ar­eas with limited fixed-route bus ser­vices.

The study will shape a de­tailed pro­posal to the Depart­ment for Trans­port for a TRICE ser­vice to start next year.

●● Dr Paul Bowen

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