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Councillor heading in the wrong direction; VOICE OF THE NORTH.

IN REPLY to Coun Stone''s letter (Voice of the North, September 2) regarding transport between the hospitals in Newcastle, I''m afraid he should have done a little more investigation himself.

The staff bus service, as he called it, is a minibus which is used primarily to carry internal post (some of which is highly confidential), small items of equipment and staff who need to travel between the RVI, the General and Freeman hospitals as part of their work.

It operates weekdays during clinic hours. Uniformed staff are not allowed to wear their uniforms on public transport for reasons of infection control, which was one of the reasons for setting up this service.

I did not see the letter to which Coun Stone was replying, but he should be aware that if a patient attending one hospital requires to be seen in another, it is usual to provide transport either by a hospital-paid taxi or non-urgent ambulance transport.

Patients attending for an appointment who are unable to travel on public transport, for a clinic appointment say, have the option of contacting their GP at least a week before, who may then be able to organise non-urgent ambulance transport, but this is not a taxi service.

Patients with an over 60s bus pass are able to travel on buses before the usual time if they show their appointment card to the driver. I believe there is also a Dial-A-Ride service in the city, but this does not seem to be well advertised.

If the issue first raised was the poor provision of public transport to the various hospitals, which I presume it was, surely this is a matter of public transport generally and as such should be addressed by the local council? I understand it is presently controlled by the Liberal Democrats, of whom Coun Stone is one.

Members of staff, as well as members of the public, it should be remembered, also have to travel to and from these hospitals.

S WALKER, staff nurse, RVI, Melbourne Court, Newcastle
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Words:337
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