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NHS defends pressing ahead on hospital changes
NHS chiefs have defended a decision to press ahead with controversial hospital changes before several transport issues have been addressed.
The transfer of several specialist services out of Wycombe Hospital has already been agreed - meaning from October 7,600 patients per year will go to Stoke Mandeville instead.
Patients repeatedly voiced concerns about getting to and from hospital as the NHS consulted on the changes, while the consultation document itself acknowledged the public "made it clear there need to be robust arrangements in place for transport and access".
The problems include a lack of parking space at Stoke Mandeville and a lack of signage and lighting along the A404.
Earlier this year Wycombe MP Steve Baker also highlighted problems with the 300 Arriva bus to Stoke Mandeville - saying elderly patients and visitors face a difficult and confusing walk from the bus stop to the hospital entrance (see related links).
The Bucks Free Press asked NHS chiefs why these issues are not being dealt with before the service changes take place, and if there is a danger of them being pushed off the agenda later.
A spokesman for the NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Cluster said: "We have already put in place some improvements and we have committed publicly to continue this work."
"Many of the transport concerns existed before the Better Healthcare in Bucks proposals but we have agreed to do what we can to improve the situation.
"The NHS can’t sort out all of the county’s transport problems on its own, and a transport sub group is up and running which includes colleagues from the county council."
She said the issues are being monitored, while a ‘transport hub’ is set to be launched to help patients get access to hospital transport.
Meanwhile, hospital chiefs have made a commitment to improve parking at Stoke Mandeville and are continuing to discuss bus improvements with Arriva, the spokesman added.
Though the majority of emergency patients affected by the changes would be taken to hospital by ambulance, they would usually be expected to make their own way home. Hospital visitors also have to organise their own transport.