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Helping patients attend appointments and make connections

2024-03-20T13:51:36+00:00Wednesday 20 March 2024|
  • Outside of Walsall Manor Hospital

Supported bus travel is being made available for Walsall patients in financial need to ensure they keep their medical appointments at the Manor Hospital.

Thanks to a partnership between Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s Patient Relations and Experience and High Intensity User Teams, supported by Walsall Council’s Walsall Connected centres, the passes will also help vulnerable people to attend groups, supporting their mental health and wellbeing.

The programme is part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan funded by Government and delivered by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in collaboration with National Express West Midlands.

Part of the programme is to support patients who struggle to access healthcare. One of the benefits of the scheme is to reduce the issue of patients not attending their appointments due to being unable to afford the bus fare.

Walsall Healthcare has hosted feedback sessions with people of all ages across local communities to understand the reasons for Did Not Attends (DNAs) and this was one of the themes that emerged.

Garry Perry, Associate Director – Patient Voice – with the Trust said: “It would be very easy to jump to the wrong conclusion about the reasons why people don’t attend their appointments and we were clear that we wanted to talk to as many as possible to better understand the range of issues that could result in these missed slots.

“One of the most common themes that we identified was the financial struggle, particularly within the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, which means many simply can’t afford to attend, although they really wanted to. And this led to discussions that went beyond physical health which is why we want to extend the travel to those who may be feeling isolated, or who have a lack of social interaction, or childcare difficulties.

“National Express West Midlands, on behalf of WMCA and TfWM has worked with our High Intensity User Team to deliver the government-funded travel support and we firmly believe it will help make a significant difference to our patients who need this help the most.

“This intervention has wider implications for other patients too. If we reduce the number of DNAs we will be able to offer more time slots and reduce waiting lists as well as save on the costs to the NHS of missed appointments. We’re proud to have worked in partnership to offer this potential solution to help our communities in such a practical way.”

Patients who need travel support will have to access this via Walsall Connected centres. Walsall Connected is a partnership between Walsall Council and local community organisations, libraries and other key partners. In total, there are now 29 Walsall Connected centres across the borough, including one outside the Antenatal Clinic at Walsall Manor Hospital.
The centres offer free Wi-Fi and access to public computers and trained staff and volunteers are on hand to support Walsall residents access council services online.

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