Last night saw a meeting of the Nairn and Ardersier Patients Group in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre. It brought together a number of people with various interests in aspects of health and social care locally. Also present and taking questions from the floor during the meeting was Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek (NHS Highland South Area Manager). The meeting heard of the group’s activities since April. This information had been detailed as follows on the NAPG website:
“We have held a number of meetings with NHS Highland’s Head of Public Engagement and the Scottish Health Council’s representative in the Highlands. The result is that we will be able to represent patients’ views not only on health services including physiotherapy and dentistry but also on social care, such as care at home and residential care.
We have regularly met with Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek who is the NHS Highland South Area Manager. Jean-Pierre and his colleagues are very keen to encourage patient engagement in the shaping and provision of health and social care in our region.
We have joined Voluntary Health Scotland, the support and lobby organisation for the third sector in health and have participated in the Scottish Government’s “Stronger Voice” consultation on service user involvement.
We have also completed the analysis of the transport survey carried out with RCOP Highland and will be publishing our findings imminently. We very much hope this will help lead to improvements in the provision of transport for the many local people who currently feel disadvantaged
Simon Noble chairing the meeting gave some details of the transport survey. The survey was done online and also at various venues throughout the area. There were nearly 340 respondents. There were five main points coming out of the survey. Simon said:
“Surprisingly less than half of those that we interviewed use their own car to get to appointments or to go to do shopping in this area. That’s not to mean to say that they don’t go by car. Quite notable numbers also go by car with relatives, friends and a few with neighbours. A more significant issue, the thing that came out was that people see the bus and dial-a-bus as problematic solutions to getting around. They actually want to use the bus and dial-a-bus, they see that as more attractive than using a taxi for example. It was a more popular form of transport but actually it proved to be rather more complex for them to book it, particularly people getting appointments in the surgery for example. They were saying, “I can get a bus there but I have to get a taxi back” or “I can get a bus there and I can’t find another way of getting back” or “I can’t get the bus there at the time that I need” or “I have to walk to get to the bus but I can’t do that. The reason I’m going to the hospital is because I broke my leg last month and I can’t actually walk to the bus stop.” So there are all kinds of complications and we found that around 11% of respondents just found that transport wasn’t available when they needed it or wasn’t reliable or wasn’t easy to organise when required.
The significance of all that now is that we are sitting on that information and the significance of it is that it suggests that the transport that is available although it works well for those for whom it works but clearly a significant number of people for whom it is not working whether it is a bus, a taxi, dial-a-bus, availability of neighbours or relatives or whatever. So there is a gap of some kind. The conclusion from that is that there needs to be some way of improving how people connect with the available services but it also maybe suggests that there needs to be some other service that fills those gaps and that is where we have stopped at the moment. We need to find a way of moving that forward and so far we have been struggling to engage positively with suitable partners to achieve that. As you could imagine, for a patient group, actually running a car scheme, or employing a transport coordinator or whatever it might be is not something that we are geared up to doing. So we need a partner for it but so far we haven’t been successful but we will start looking again.
Councillor Liz MacDonald was present at the meeting and she added: “We are intending taking a report to the March area committee on identifying the transport to see what duplication or gaps there are in service. That will be a desk top exercise done by our officers to look at what transport is available in the town just now and maybe then we can link it in with the needs you have identified and see where the holes are.”
The meeting continued with the Groups Secretary, Sue Hood, speaking on concerns about people that are at home with chronic illness and whether the services provided to them actually hit the spot. Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek who is the NHS Highland South Area Manager then talked about how he would work with the group, he then went on to answer questions including points raised about the Christmas Day closure of Nairn A&E. More from the meeting when time permits.