In­firm and poor priced out of ap­point­ments at hospi­tal

Oban meet­ing hears trans­fer of ser­vices is im­pact­ing on pa­tients

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

EL­DERLY, in­firm, poor fam­i­lies and looked-af­ter chil­dren will be worst hit by long jour­neys to hos­pi­tals in Pais­ley, Alexan­dria and Glas­gow, Coun­cil­lor Mary-Jean Devon told hospi­tal bosses on Tues­day evening.

The meet­ing to up­date peo­ple on hospi­tal ser­vices, and take ques­tions and an­swers from the com­mu­nity, was at­tended by around 100 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a large num­ber of Oban hospi­tal staff and man­agers.

The largest round of ap­plause of the evening was in re­sponse to a state­ment by Coun­cil­lor Devon, who out­lined her con­cerns about the num­ber of morn­ing ap­point­ments now be­ing made in the city for pa­tients.

While peo­ple can re­claim the mileage and an al­lowance for overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion, Mrs Devon told of one pa­tient who had raised con­cerns with her.

Mrs Devon, who lives on Mull, said: ‘Mr X is in his late 70s his ap­point­ment is at 9am in Pais­ley. It is im­pos­si­ble for him to get from the is­land to the hospi­tal for that time, so he has to stay overnight in the city.

‘At his ap­point­ment, there can of­ten be more than 10 peo­ple who have been given the same ap­point­ment time. There­fore he can some­times be wait­ing un­til 1pm to be seen.

‘He de­pends on his wife to drive him to Pais­ley. This month he has had three ap­point­ments and a fur­ther ap­point­ment next week. This means he will have trav­elled more than 1,000 miles.

‘ They are un­able to find ac­com­mo­da­tion at the rate of £ 35.70 [un­der­stood to be the amount that can be re­funded]. The last num­ber of times, ac­com­mo­da­tion cost £ 80.

‘There are many peo­ple who can­not af­ford this and will mean peo­ple who have not got the money to travel to the hospi­tal will not go.

‘Has there ever been an im­pact as­sess­ment of mov­ing these ser­vices away from Oban?

‘I am very con­cerned that there will be a di­vide be­tween the rich and the poor, and that peo­ple will just not at­tend ap­point­ments. What do you have in place to deal with that?’

An­other woman, who said she was in­volved with looked-af­ter chil­dren, said it would not just be the el­derly and the in­firm who would suf­fer. She said: ‘ Please don’t for­get the im­pact on chil­dren, es­pe­cially those who are looked-af­ter, when peo­ple have to get time off to take chil­dren to ap­point­ments for five min­utes.’

An­nie MacLeod, lo­cal­ity man­ager for Oban Lorn and Isles, said: ‘ Any­one who is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems should speak to us.

‘In the fu­ture, we will do much more video con­fer­enc­ing for ap­point­ments. For ex­am­ple, on Tiree we are plan­ning to of­fer a mid­wife ser­vice so women can get in touch with us.’

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about why the pub­lic did not know about the re­moval of the urol­ogy ser­vice to Glas­gow un­til they read about it in The

Oban Times, Mrs MacLeod said: ‘It was dis­cussed last year at the health fo­rum. We wrote to users of the ser­vice and told peo­ple who used the clinic.

‘If we haven’t got it right, then we need to look at that dif­fer­ently.’

Steven Wis­ton, head of plan­ning for Ar­gyll and Bute Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship, said: ‘ We want to know about peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences. I have heard so of­ten that peo­ple from the is­lands are of­fered 9am ap­point­ments and this can­not be achieved. Peo­ple should phone up and get the time changed.

‘ But if you are hav­ing prob­lems, con­tact us. We need to know about it. I have a com­mit­ment from Glas­gow and they will look at that.

‘The High­lands and Is­lands trans­port scheme at­tempts to re­im­burse as closely as pos­si­ble. It will not cover ev­ery­thing, but that is the re­source we have.

‘ We want to mit­i­gate that [the cost of ac­com­mo­da­tion and travel] and im­prove ac­cess to ser­vices.’

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