Travel is a major patient concern

ACTION NEEDED Councillors had serious concerns about transport.
ACTION NEEDED Councillors had serious concerns about transport.

The impact of moving key hospital services from Dewsbury to Wakefield came under close scrutiny when councillors questioned officials.

The issue of travel and transport for patients and visitors was the topic of the first evidence gathering sessions by the Wakefield and Kirklees joint scrutiny committee.

It has been asked to review all aspects of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust proposals to radically change services in Dewsbury, Wakefield and Pontefract.

Councillors questioned how vulnerable patients from North Kirklees were expected to get to hospital appointments in Wakefield by 7am, whether public transport links were suitable and what the Trust did to help patients plan their journeys.

They heard from patients and health officials who are part of a travel group which started meeting in December.

Chairwoman Valerie Aguirregoicoa said fewer patients would need to travel to anything other than their most local hospital if service changes went ahead.

But she admitted travel was one of the biggest concerns raised during pre-consultation last year.

She said a number of ideas were being considered, including extending hours for the free shuttle bus, offering more flexible appointment times and giving free Metro cards for A&E patients.

The scrutiny committee will produce a report at the end of its 12 week review.