'Write to your MP over hospital transport'

RURAL people are being asked to write to their MPs and call for a review of non-emergency patient transport services.

It follows warnings by Age UK that older people are facing huge difficulties getting to routine hospital appointments.

The charity has called for a review of non-emergency patient transport services – and wants people to write to their MPs in support of the campaign.

For most people, just having a medical appointment is enough to worry about, it says.

But older people also often need to make long and complicated journeys to and from hospital.

“Sadly, this is a stark reality for many older people – who are the main users of the NHS,” says Age UK's Rosie McKearney.

    See also: Are rural carers overwhelmed by need?

Older patients can feel alone, and in pain, while being constantly anxious that they will be late for their appointment, she adds.

The Rural Services Network has also highlighted the impact that austerity cuts are having on rural transport and access to healthcare services.

Almost one in five older people feel worse after attending hospital because of journey stress, according to Age UK’s latest research.

The research polled over-65s who have attended a hospital appointment in the past year.

It found that 18% – over one million people – reported feeling worse afterwards because of the stress involved in the journey to hospital.

  Health conditions

As people grow older, their chances increase of having multiple health conditions requiring regular hospital appointments, says Ms McKearney.

If older people cannot get to the hospital services they need, it will translate into extra costs for the NHS, which is already stretched to the limit.

This is especially so if people have to endure long, painful and stressful journeys to reach a hospital.

More importantly, missed appointments and possible relapses, increase the risk of making the need for NHS treatment at a point of crisis more likely.

Age UK’s nationwide Painful Journeys campaign aims to highlight the difficulties facing millions of older people when travelling to hospital appointments.

It is calling for urgent government review of transport services to ensure hospital transport for older people is comfortable, affordable and arrives in good time.

  Big difference

The charity argues that this would make a big difference to older people, their families and to the NHS.

Age UK’s Painful Journeys campaign highlights the difficulties many older people face to get to their routine hospital appointments.

It is calling for as many people as possible to write to their MP to raise their concerns which they can do quickly and easily by clicking here.

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/painfuljourneys  or email campaigns@ageuk.org.uk to get involved, particularly at a local level.


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