A new mini-bus service offering Island patients convenient transport between home and hospital will take to the roads from 1 July.
The contract for Patient Transport Services (PTS) has been awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care to Bus Vannin following a full tender process. The service had previously been provided by the Red Cross, and the Department has thanked the organisation, its staff and volunteers for their commitment over the past 10 years.
Bus Vannin currently operates a network of minibuses across the Island serving DHSC day centres and other facilities, and the patient transport service will become part of this operation. It is designed to offer more flexible pick-up times from home or the hospital, with less waiting around.
Patients will travel in Bus Vannin's new Mercedes Sprinter vehicles, equipped with wheelchair lifts and seats recommended by the charity Arthritis UK, designed to offer optimal comfort for patients who suffer from the condition.
In addition, Bus Vannin drivers have received specialist training to ensure they are up to date with current moving and handling procedures as well as first aid. The operator already provides transport for patients undergoing renal dialysis.
DHSC Minister David Ashford MHK said:
'It was time to have a fresh look at our patient transport. The Red Cross has done an excellent job over the past decade, and our decision to award the contract to Bus Vannin doesn't reflect any dissatisfaction. But I see a really positive opportunity to tap into the minibus service which Bus Vannin already operates and integrate these journeys between home and our hospitals.
'Instead of set pick-up times, the new operation will be more flexible in responding to individual needs – which means patients won't have to wait too long after being dropped off at the hospital for their appointments, or afterwards to go home.
'The drivers understand how to assist patients and ensure their journeys are as comfortable as possible – their training has been a priority. Patients shouldn't see any change in the way they are met and assisted by staff when the new contract begins on 1 July. We are working with the Department of Infrastructure to provide this essential service – it's a joined-up approach which I'm confident will serve us well.'
Bookings for the new service will be taken by a team at Noble's Hospital while journey schedulers at Bus Vannin will plan routes and pick-up times using a specialist software system.