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Cornwall's bus journey to hospital that takes several hours

Cornwall's bus journey to hospital that takes several hours

Published by Emma Carton at 8:03am 21st January 2019. (Updated at 1:38pm 23rd January 2019)

A report has revealed the village facing a bus journey of several hours to get to Cornwall's main hospital.

Citizens Advice is worried about transport links and vital services in rural areas, like Cadgwith on the Lizard.

It has found that at least 14 banks have shut in two years and more than a third of parishes surveyed have lost a village store.

"There has been quite significant investment in new buses but the trouble is, we think a lot of villages are missing out.

"If you're already vulnerable and isolated and don't have access to a car, it's getting harder to access services you used to take for granted".

Wailim Wong, Citizens Advice Cornwall

What are the closures flagged up in the report?

'Rural Access' builds on work Citizens Advice carried out in 2010 to see if the situation for rural dwellers has changed.

The report included a survey of Cornish parish councils and found the majority felt banks, GP surgeries and post offices were not adequately serving their areas, although the majority felt they were well served for supermarkets and primary schools.

Between 2015-2017 at least 14 bank branches have closed in Cornwall, creating problems for some customers, especially small businesses that still rely on cash transactions.

Although the programme of Post Office closures has stabilised, 18% of parishes surveyed now opened on a reduced number of days.

81% of parishes surveyed felt they had "reasonable" access to general stores or a supermarket, although 36% reported the loss of a village store in the last five years.

What are the transport concerns raised by the report?

The report also looked at public transport links in the county.

Whilst acknowledging significant investment in new vehicles by bus companies, particularly connecting major towns in mid and west Cornwall, it highlights poor or non-existent connections in some villages, particularly in north and east Cornwall.

Citizens Advice tested a number of routes from selected villages to services, such as the nearest library, swimming pool or major hospital.

The longest journey time was from Cadgwith, on the Lizard to the Royal Cornwall Hospital - a 29 mile journey which took five hours, 22 minutes, which the charity says would make a return journey for an outpatient appointment very difficult to achieve.

First Group has told Pirate FM it has no record of a journey taking that long, adding that the actual journey time is more like two hours.

"First Kernow would like to clarify that a bus journey to Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske from The Lizard peninsula takes on average 2hrs 10mins.

"Depending on the route and time of day, the quickest journey option takes 2hrs 3 mins, and the longest takes 2hrs 36mins.

"Our punctuality records show that approximately nine out of ten journeys arrive on time.

"We have no record of a bus journey between Cadgwith, on The Lizard, to the RCH that took 5hrs 22mins as stated by Citizens Advice, and have asked them for information."

First Kernow

What are the positives from the report?

Despite the challenges, the report finds cause for optimism in the development of new technologies which might reduce the need for costly public transport.

Citizens Advice Cornwall suggest the rise of internet use for grocery shopping, internet banking and card transactions and home delivery of repeat prescriptions has made life easier for many.

These technical advances, including online GP consultations, should be developed to help people without internet access, such as the vulnerable, elderly and those on very low incomes.

What does the report recommend?

  • Urging the local authority and parish councils to use the model of town libraries by providing internet access in village halls and other convenient rural venues.
  • Support for people with mobility and transport issues with online grocery shopping.
  • Calling on NHS providers to investigate holding community nurse surgeries in village halls and making use of online consultations.

"Rural services have been under great pressure on many fronts for many years.

"Given Cornwall's unique geography, this is creating real problems and hardship for people in our rural communities, especially the elderly, vulnerable and those on low incomes.

"Our report highlights the continued decline in services but also points at some ways forward, where rapid online developments could be used to help connect people to services where the will and commitment from public service providers exists".

Gill Pipkin, Citizens Advice Cornwall Acting Chief Executive

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