Get on the bus

August 8th, 2011

Sometimes in politics waiting for action can be like standing at a bus stop on a rainy morning.

You know it’s going to come eventually but it can be frustrating waiting for it to happen.

So I am pleased that one of the issues I have been raising for some time, transport for health and social care, is finally proceeding on to the political agenda.

In a place like Inverclyde, with traditionally low car ownership, an increasing elderly population and many outlying communities, many of you will know the problem.

Whether it’s having to get two or three buses to make a hospital appointment, in Inverclyde or beyond, or waiting for a hospital transfer or discharge, it’s not pleasant.

For many people, access to community care at Inverclyde Royal Hospital or simply to the doctor’s practice, transport is the first contact in that health care journey.

So it with regret that for many, it isn’t always a positive experience.

You will be glad as I am to know that public spending watchdogs Audit Scotland has confirmed what we already know.

A report this week insists that millions are being wasted because of a lack of joined-up thinking between the various agencies.

Between the councils, the health boards, the ambulance service, the dial-a-bus, the hard-working volunteer drivers, the bus companies and taxi firms, they all have an important part to play in ensuring people can access health services.

But a lack of co-ordination is creating waste and inefficiencies, and more importantly, leaving users of health and care services sold short.

I hope that this report will provoke a strong response from the Scottish Government and I look forward to seeing their plans for the better integration of health and social care before the health committee this year.

I will be working hard to ensure that Inverclyde doesn’t miss the bus when we look at improvements to transport in health and social care.