April 22 2015.

More than 400 people have signed up to a new partnership pilot scheme being trialled by community transport charity CTLA and the NHS High Weald Lewes Havens CCG in its first two months of operation. The scheme aims to improve access for anyone who may otherwise have struggled to reach local health services. It is part of a wider project by the CCG to improve access to healthcare and tackle poor health experienced by many people in these areas.

Free accessible transport is available for patients registered at the five GP practices in Newhaven, Peacehaven and Telscombe Cliffs which enables them to get to their local surgery and also to Lewes Victoria Hospital.

Responding to passenger feedback and demand, the scheme has been extended to include transport to the Downs Polyclinic in Newhaven and for patients who need to attend clinics at School Hill surgery in Lewes.

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine research has found that failure to attend NHS appointments costs the service approximately £700m with up to six million appointment slots wasted annually. There are several reasons identified for patients missing appointments and one of the top three is transportation problems, which is being addressed by this innovative scheme.

Derek Barnett, general manager for CTLA comments: “We are really pleased with the way the scheme is progressing. There is evidence that its availability is achieving most of the objectives set for the scheme. In particular it is allowing more patients to use Lewes Victoria Hospital, something that has proved difficult for them previously due to lack of suitable direct public transport options.”

Dr Neil Myers, a Peacehaven GP and clinical lead for the project, added: “We launched this pilot after hearing from local people how they sometimes struggle to access NHS care and attend appointments because of a lack of transport. So it’s reassuring to see more and more people using this service.”

Feedback already received from service users shows how vital this scheme has already proved for many Haven residents :

"It was a real comfort to know this service was now available, it will help so many people. I think it will save a lot of doctors call outs by people now being able to reach the clinics."

"My father had a minor procedure scheduled at the Lewes Victoria hospital. As my mother doesn't drive the thought of the journey was causing them a lot of concern and he would not have been able to attend without this new service."

"My journey was stress free. I just hope that this service continues, as I couldn't have made it now I've had to give up driving."

Patients must be registered in order to request the transport. Registration is free and can be completed over the phone. For more information, to register for the service or to make a booking contact CTLA on 01273 612332 or visit www.ctla.org.uk 
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