Bus service running between south west Hertfordshire hospitals to be axed

Watford Observer: Free hospital bus service to be axed Free hospital bus service to be axed

The free bus service transporting patients and staff between hospitals in south west Hertfordshire is set to be axed as part of a cost-saving move.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General, has told staff its current financial position means it cannot continue the service.

The trust has urged staff to look at other ways of getting into work such as walking, cycling, car sharing or taking public transport after the service ends at the start of April.

Hospital bosses said the service cost close to £450,000 a year to run and resources had to be directed to treating patients.

The move has been attacked as “disgraceful” by Watford politicians, who described it as a negative move by the trust.

Nigel Bell, a Labour borough and county councillor for the Vicarage area, said: “This is disgraceful by the trust as it is hard enough for staff and patients at the hospital to park.

“As a Labour group at Watford we are completely against yet another negative move by the trust.”

The trust also announced that as well as the axing of the bus service it would be increasing the cost of staff parking permits from next month.

The bus service currently operates between hospitals Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans between 6.30am and 8.45pm.

The service is available to patients, carers, staff and visitors.

The trust told staff it had looked at ways of introducing charges for the service, which is provided by the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust, but said the costs would still be prohibitive.

It said it is currently in talks with the bus operators Arriva over permits and reduced rates for staff.

The announcement follows news last week the trust was due to start charging blue badge holders to park at its hospitals from April. Currently disabled and long term sick people who hold the badge can park at for free.

But trust said it was rescinding the benefit to make sure its parking arrangements were “fair and equitable” to all motorists and was not to do with generating more revenue.

Louise Gaffney, the trust's director of strategy and infrastructure, said the decision to axe the bus service had not been taken lightly.

She said: “The free transport service which runs between the three hospital sites, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, will be discontinued as from 1 April 2013.

“This inter-site transport service was set up some years ago primarily as an interim support mechanism for staff travelling between sites and costs the Trust in the region of £449,000 per year to run.

“Staff parking charges will also be increased by 0.02% of their annual salary from the end of February.

“These decisions were not made lightly by the trust. However it has a responsibility to ensure its facilities are fair and accessible to all and, in these difficult economic times, that limited resources are directed first and foremost into treating its patients”.

Comments (17)

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7:08pm Mon 28 Jan 13

Mohandas says...

When do patients get a go to ask where the sword of Damocles should go next ?
When do patients get a go to ask where the sword of Damocles should go next ? Mohandas
  • Score: 0

7:43pm Mon 28 Jan 13

MarsLander says...

0.02% of annual salary is just a few quid so really is insignificant.

The trust on the other hand are trying to make bankers look like the tooth fairy.
0.02% of annual salary is just a few quid so really is insignificant. The trust on the other hand are trying to make bankers look like the tooth fairy. MarsLander
  • Score: 0

12:52am Tue 29 Jan 13

Veritas says...

get rid of a few useless Hospital Managers, that should more than cover the cost of the buses.
get rid of a few useless Hospital Managers, that should more than cover the cost of the buses. Veritas
  • Score: 0

2:28am Tue 29 Jan 13

TRT says...

Like I said, wrong place for a hospital serving those three areas.
Like I said, wrong place for a hospital serving those three areas. TRT
  • Score: 0

4:32am Tue 29 Jan 13

John Dowdle says...

To develop TRT's point, cancellation of this service is an utter betrayal by the hospital trust of assurances that were given at the time when it was agreed that A&E and maternity services would be concentrated on the Watford site.
This development will hit hard those who are less well off as the more affluent can drive or use taxis to these different locations but the idea of using public transport - especially when people are unwell - is horrific.
It is time that our local MP got involved in this matter and referred the matter to the Secretary of State for Health.
West Herts Hospital Trust seems utterly consumed with money and is abandoning its public commitment towards providing a public service which is fully accessible.
The idea of withdrawing free parking for disabled patients is incredibly mean and Scrooge-like too.
Is this the first decision to be made by the new Chief Executive?
I feel a strong local campaign coming on - will others join in? Perhaps we should set up our own West Herts Community Health Council?
To develop TRT's point, cancellation of this service is an utter betrayal by the hospital trust of assurances that were given at the time when it was agreed that A&E and maternity services would be concentrated on the Watford site. This development will hit hard those who are less well off as the more affluent can drive or use taxis to these different locations but the idea of using public transport - especially when people are unwell - is horrific. It is time that our local MP got involved in this matter and referred the matter to the Secretary of State for Health. West Herts Hospital Trust seems utterly consumed with money and is abandoning its public commitment towards providing a public service which is fully accessible. The idea of withdrawing free parking for disabled patients is incredibly mean and Scrooge-like too. Is this the first decision to be made by the new Chief Executive? I feel a strong local campaign coming on - will others join in? Perhaps we should set up our own West Herts Community Health Council? John Dowdle
  • Score: 0

7:20am Tue 29 Jan 13

OAC Bailiff says...

why not scrap operations as well save even more money this country is going exactly how i predicted oanother year this country will be well and truly finished
why not scrap operations as well save even more money this country is going exactly how i predicted oanother year this country will be well and truly finished OAC Bailiff
  • Score: 0

8:53am Tue 29 Jan 13

Hornets number 12 fan says...

Shakes head in disbelief! I suppose they couldn't have asked the people who actually use this service if they wouldn't mind making a contribution to running costs? That would be too **** straight forward for the idiots that run this Trust wouldn't it?
Shakes head in disbelief! I suppose they couldn't have asked the people who actually use this service if they wouldn't mind making a contribution to running costs? That would be too **** straight forward for the idiots that run this Trust wouldn't it? Hornets number 12 fan
  • Score: 0

10:02am Tue 29 Jan 13

janjan57 says...

this is a stupid idea by Trust. The bus services do not go very close to all hospitals. St Albans the bus stops at least 10 min walk away and Hemel you have to walk up a hill. If someone is unable to walk far the internal transport helps. It is £8 for a day return on public transport when it runs. The Trust would expect staff to get to work on time or at the last min send them to another site as there is a staff shortage. Trust transport 20 - 30 mins public transport up to 2 hours.
DONT STOP THE TRANSPORT. charging a £1 or £2 would bring in some revenue each way. cheaper than parking on Trust sites
this is a stupid idea by Trust. The bus services do not go very close to all hospitals. St Albans the bus stops at least 10 min walk away and Hemel you have to walk up a hill. If someone is unable to walk far the internal transport helps. It is £8 for a day return on public transport when it runs. The Trust would expect staff to get to work on time or at the last min send them to another site as there is a staff shortage. Trust transport 20 - 30 mins public transport up to 2 hours. DONT STOP THE TRANSPORT. charging a £1 or £2 would bring in some revenue each way. cheaper than parking on Trust sites janjan57
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Nightreader says...

It costs around £250 per month per user for this service....80% odd of users are staff not patients.
It costs around £250 per month per user for this service....80% odd of users are staff not patients. Nightreader
  • Score: 0

2:30pm Tue 29 Jan 13

John Dowdle says...

Nightreader: you are probably right but this situation is almost certainly due to a failure by the hospital trust to promote the service to the public, is it not?
Another aspect is that if free parking were available at all sites, then patients and their accompaniers could park locally and use the connecting bus service.
Also, do not forget that this bus service was instituted when particular services were concentrated on specific sites in order that the staff living elsewhere would be able to access other sites from the ones they had traditionally worked at.
So, for example, a maternity nurse living and originally working in Hemel would be able to use the inter-site transport to get to Watford without having to incur added transport costs and the stress and strain of a longer drive to work at Watford.
By cancelling the bus service, West Herts Hospital Trust are reneging on the assurances they gave to staff at the time of the re-organisation.
Nightreader: you are probably right but this situation is almost certainly due to a failure by the hospital trust to promote the service to the public, is it not? Another aspect is that if free parking were available at all sites, then patients and their accompaniers could park locally and use the connecting bus service. Also, do not forget that this bus service was instituted when particular services were concentrated on specific sites in order that the staff living elsewhere would be able to access other sites from the ones they had traditionally worked at. So, for example, a maternity nurse living and originally working in Hemel would be able to use the inter-site transport to get to Watford without having to incur added transport costs and the stress and strain of a longer drive to work at Watford. By cancelling the bus service, West Herts Hospital Trust are reneging on the assurances they gave to staff at the time of the re-organisation. John Dowdle
  • Score: 0

5:22pm Tue 29 Jan 13

erewegoagain says...

tell you what.... why not use the car park revenue pay for it.
tell you what.... why not use the car park revenue pay for it. erewegoagain
  • Score: 0

6:04pm Tue 29 Jan 13

John Dowdle says...

As well as the £50,000 in parking fines grabbed by Watford General Hospital last year. It is outrageous that our publicly funded healthcare service is being funded at the expense of the sick and their relatives. Disgusting !!!!!
As well as the £50,000 in parking fines grabbed by Watford General Hospital last year. It is outrageous that our publicly funded healthcare service is being funded at the expense of the sick and their relatives. Disgusting !!!!! John Dowdle
  • Score: 0

11:43pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Nightreader says...

The bus isn't a public service therefore was not advertised to 'the public'. There is no way they can charge individuals enough to cover the cost of running it, almost £0.5m is far better spent on clinical services IMO.

Staff were told when services restructured any assisted travel such as relocation mileage and the bus was in place for 4 years.

People want everything for nothing these days, if that bus started charging £5 a journey it would be emptier than it is now. Many a time I've had the entire bus to myself. An indulgent waste of money and I'm glad the Trust are being sensible and non emotive in removing it.
The bus isn't a public service therefore was not advertised to 'the public'. There is no way they can charge individuals enough to cover the cost of running it, almost £0.5m is far better spent on clinical services IMO. Staff were told when services restructured any assisted travel such as relocation mileage and the bus was in place for 4 years. People want everything for nothing these days, if that bus started charging £5 a journey it would be emptier than it is now. Many a time I've had the entire bus to myself. An indulgent waste of money and I'm glad the Trust are being sensible and non emotive in removing it. Nightreader
  • Score: 0

5:11am Wed 30 Jan 13

John Dowdle says...

Nightreader: you seem to know what you are talking about and have practical experience of the actual situation. I will defer to your knowledge on this matter - unless someone else with equivalent knowledge but a different perspective posts a comment.
Nightreader: you seem to know what you are talking about and have practical experience of the actual situation. I will defer to your knowledge on this matter - unless someone else with equivalent knowledge but a different perspective posts a comment. John Dowdle
  • Score: 0

6:45pm Wed 30 Jan 13

wallace gromit says...

ok so yet again how am i suposed to get to my hospital apointments now as im a wheel chair user
ok so yet again how am i suposed to get to my hospital apointments now as im a wheel chair user wallace gromit
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Nightreader says...

Wallace - There are hospital transport services and also volunteer drivers. I'm surprised the bus was equipped to take Wchair users.

If u look on the website there may be details of transport but ill try to remember to find the info at work tomorrow.
Wallace - There are hospital transport services and also volunteer drivers. I'm surprised the bus was equipped to take Wchair users. If u look on the website there may be details of transport but ill try to remember to find the info at work tomorrow. Nightreader
  • Score: 0

8:43pm Fri 1 Feb 13

pancake39 says...

Oh what a surprise
Oh what a surprise pancake39
  • Score: 0

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