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Vital bus service preserved and extended

PH220116(7)PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Hywel Dda UHB have welcomed an agreement to secure public transport provision for those attending outpatient appointments at Glangwili. 

The public bus route between Haverfordwest and Carmarthen, route 322, is operated by Silcox Coaches without subsidy from the Local Authority.

Due to the relatively low numbers of passengers using the service it was at risk of being withdrawn.

With the changes to health services and the greater number of people required to travel to Glangwili Hospital it was important that the 322 bus service was retained.

Pembrokeshire County Council worked in partnership with Silcox Coaches and Hywel Dda Health Board in order to introduce a number of initiatives to enhance the service and make it more sustainable.

The route has now been extended to serve the hospitals directly and is now an easy access bus improving the travel experience for all passengers.

Whilst serving shoppers to Haverfordwest and Carmarthen, the bus now also serves both Glangwili and Withybush Hospitals making it ideal for people attending hospital appointments or visiting friends and family.

The announcement that Silcox Coaches’ 322 bus service between Haverfordwest and Carmarthen has been preserved has, however, not come without adverse reaction on social media.

Despite the recent announcement of an all-Wales non-emergency transport initiative, members of the public have suggested that requiring people to use public transport to attend outpatient appointments at Glangwili is unacceptable and pressed for a return of services to Withybush. The Board has previously made it clear that no clinical case has been made for the return of services transferred to Glangwili from Haverfordwest over recent years.

Patient transport to and from Glangwili was a substantial issue raised by members of the Pembrokeshire public during the recent the inquiry by the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health. The comments online make it clear that there is little the Board can do to assuage those issues short of a complete clinical about face.

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However, the complaints made on line suggest confusion between the extension of an existing bus service, non-emergency patient transport, and emergency ambulance provision, with one person enquiring whether the bus would be equipped with medical personnel and equipment.

Responding to the comments on its Facebook feed, a Board spokesperson said: ‘The purpose of sharing this information was to help those attending outpatient appointments or those visiting family and friends in Glangwilli Hospital – as this is a new service which people may not be aware of and which may be an option for some to consider depending on their circumstances. We do not propose this is a transport solution for sick children or late at night. For detailed information about the various travel options and advice for vulnerable families, please visit: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/862/page/83744”.

Hailing the service’s preservation and extension, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transportation, Councillor Rob Lewis, said: “We are pleased to have been involved with this scheme and to work closely with the Health Board and the other organisations to improve public access to health services in the county.”

Peter Llewellyn from the University Health Board said: “It is essential that we work collaboratively to improve patient access to health services in Pembrokeshire. We are already seeing the benefit of this partnership approach to patients across the county by working with colleagues from the Local Authority and Voluntary Sector with further developments planned.”

Speaking to The Herald: Cllr Jamie Adams, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “As a public service body, we recognise that from time to time, the point of delivery for services will change to ensure that services remain sustainable.

“What is important for the residents we represent is providing good access to those services and in that regard, we have been pleased to work with the Health Board to ensure that Pembrokeshire residents are not disadvantaged in terms of access to the service provision.”