PEOPLE living in Hartlepool and East Durham are being reminded of the help available when travelling to two hospitals in the area.
A transport plan has been developed which sets out the different types of support available to people who do not have their own transport and who do not have direct bus routes to hospital near to where they live.
This follows the transfer of emergency medical and critical care services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, which started last Monday and should be complete by the middle of the month.
Health chiefs say the controversial changes are being made to ensure the safest possible services for local people and follow public consultation over the summer.
People living in Hartlepool, Peterlee, Easington and Sedgefield who become very unwell should contact their GP in the usual way and if they need to go into hospital they will be referred to the University Hospital of North Tees and taken there, if needed, by ambulance.
When immediate emergency care is needed, for example, for symptoms such as choking, chest pain, blacking out or blood loss, people should continue to ring 999.
The transport plan includes:
l Additional shuttle bus services running between hospital sites. As well as the current eight seater mini bus the trust has two 17-seater buses which will run regularly between the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees. This service is free. For more information ring the trust’s service desk on (01429) 522550.
l A volunteer driver scheme has been set up for people who need help getting to appointments. The first group of volunteers are now trained. For further information ring the trust’s service desk on (01429) 522550.
l Discounts have been negotiated with the trust’s taxi provider, 23 Taxis, for patients and relatives travelling for appointments or visiting.
l Patients on certain welfare benefits are being reminded that they may be eligible for financial support to help with travelling costs.
l The trust is looking at appointment times to see if they can be made more convenient for people who need to rely on public transport.
l More car parking spaces are being made available at the University Hospital of North Tees.
Julie Gillon, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We hope these arrangements will help not just those affected by changes to the emergency medical and critical care services but also patients using any services at both the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees and people visiting relatives and friends.”