NHS bosses' 'extremely concerned' over Hertfordshire bus cuts plan
PUBLISHED: 15:56 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:56 28 October 2014
Planned cuts to bus services have been slammed in a letter co-signed by four of the county's top NHS bosses.
The damning response, to a consultation on plans to axe services after 6.30pm, caused them to be “extremely concerned” about transport links between the QE2 Hospital, in WGC and the Lister, in Stevenage.
The dispatch also claimed the most vulnerable patients and lowest paid staff would be hit.
It read: “We recognise the unprecedented scale of the financial austerity affecting all public services.
“However, we are very concerned that cutting the financial support for the bus services which serve our healthcare facilities will have a negative effect on our most vulnerable patients and our lowest paid staff.
“Any reduction in subsidy for evening and weekend services could also undermine the principles of extended hours and seven day working which are vital to ensuring the sustainability, affordability and smooth-running of health and social care services in the county.”
It added: “In particular, we are extremely concerned about the threat to the 300 and 301 services to and from the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, which provide a vital connection to and from the QE2 Hospital, in Welwyn Garden City.”
The letter was signed by Lesley Watts, chief executive of the East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Nick Carver, chief executive of the East and North Herts NHS Trust, Dr Hari Pathmanathan, chair of the East and North Herts CCG and Ian Morfett, chair of the East and North Herts NHS Trust.
Reacting to the letter Lib Dem councillor Malcolm Cowan said: “This is powerful support for our case that services should not be cut.”
He added: “The proposed bus service cuts will mean no evening visiting of relatives in hospital for one in five of the local people in my area, something I find unacceptable.”
Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet Member for highways, responded via the County Council’s media office, and said: “ I would like to thank everyone who has responded to our consultation.
“We will consider the content of this and all other responses to the official consultation at a panel meeting on November 4.
“No decision has been made and the views of everyone will be taken into account before deciding our final plans.”