O’Rourke criticises ‘damaging’ cutbacks to patient transport scheme

Published on: 07 June 2016

Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke has asked the Minister for Health Simon Harris to reverse cutbacks to the Hospital Patient Transport Scheme.

The scheme is in place to help patients travel to attend hospital appointments when they are unable to access suitable public transport. Deputy O’Rourke says recent cutbacks have meant some patients are unable to attend hospitals for their appointments.

“In recent weeks I’ve been contacted by numerous patients who have told me that cutbacks to the Hospital Patient Transport Scheme have resulted in them being unable to attend hospital appointments. This is alarming as it means their recovery is being undermined, and it’s also resulting in increased costs for the health service due to the rescheduling of appointments,” said Deputy O’Rourke.

“It’s not the patient’s fault that they have to rely on this transport schemes. The previous Government cutback transport services on a number of occasions, especially in rural areas. The end result is that patients are finding it increasingly difficult to access suitable public transport in order to attend hospital appointments. This hospital transport scheme is vital in ensuring these patients can continue with their medical treatment.

“In some instances public transport is just not an option for patients, particularly for those that have mobility problems. In such cases the only way they can attend hospital appointments is by availing of the Hospital Patient Transport Scheme which ensures a taxi is provided to help them travel to their destination. The cutbacks to the scheme is making it more difficult for patients to avail of such services.

“I’ve raised this matter with Minister for Health Simon Harris and pointed out the cutbacks are having a damaging effect on people’s lives. It’s also putting unnecessary pressure on the health service as a result of the cancellation of hospital appointments. Naturally I’d prefer for patients to be treated in their local community. However so long as patients are told to attend hospitals outside of their communities then the HSE should assist them in accessing suitable transport services,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

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