Reducing the need to travel
People told us that they sometimes wondered whether a face to face appointment on the mainland had been necessary, and worried about the cost to both patient and the NHS.
There was also a feeling that there had been a reduction in services available on island and a ‘drift’ to everything being undertaken at mainland centres.
Healthwatch and Link4Scilly before us have long spoken of the need for consultants and clinicians to think twice before routinely making mainland appointments for islanders, and measures to reduce the need to travel is a standing item on the IOS Medical Travel and Transport Group agenda.
All local services have instigated or funded measures to reduce travel, including the Council, Health Centre, Hospital, and League of Friends.
The Health Centre has increased the range of diagnostic tests which can be undertaken on-island, and has introduced a monthly ultrasound clinic for some scans. This has brought significant savings already, in urgent travel. Pending completion of GP training, urgent x-rays will be available 7 days a week.
A project is now being undertaken by NHS Kernow to look at further savings which may be achieved through offering alternative arrangements for some routine outpatient appointments, i.e. by telephone or video consultation. This means there will be a clear expectation on clinics to offer alternatives, rather than routinely making appointments on the mainland.