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BBC investigates rural hospital transport

The Rural Services Network has featured in a BBC radio programme looking at difficulties faced by rural people accessing healthcare.

Broadcast on Friday (30 March), the whole episode of BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme on Friday (30 March) examined the issue of hospital transport.

The programme details the impact of large-scale cuts on bus services since the introduction of austerity measures.

    See also: Write to your MP over hospital transport

At the same time, medical services have been increasingly concentrated in 'centres of excellence' in towns and cities, with few specialist facilities available in local community hospitals.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs told the programme more and more services were being centralised into larger towns.

“Accessing those services is increasingly difficult whilst at the same time public transport is being reduced,” said Mr Biggs.

    Accessibility

It was true there was a shortage of medical specialists but something had to be done around accessibility – whether via public transport or some other means, he said.

Patients in rural areas needing to use public transport to get to hospital often faced painfully long journey times, reported the programme.

Presenter Emma Campbell travelled to hospital with a listener called Sandra, who has to take three buses in each direction to get from her home in Somerset to her appointment in Bath.

Sandra faced a travel time of over three hours each way, for a 10 minute appointment – a situation which was “not uncommon at all” for rural residents, said Mr Biggs.

The programme also heard from representatives of Age UK's 'Painful Journeys' campaign, who also explained the extent of the problem in rural areas.

The full programme can be heard by clicking here (available until 28 pril 2018)

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