Residents plead for better transport to hospital

LETTER OF THE DAY: An advert board ‘no-no’

RESIDENTS have stepped up the fight for better transport to and from Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital.

In just two hours, 148 people signed a petition to demand a dedicated bus service between Emsworth and hospital.

It comes as many elderly residents are struggling to get to and from Cosham.

As reported in The News, the hospital encourages Emsworth residents to take the train to Havant and then catch a bus to Cosham.

But David Willetts, Tory MP for Havant, has worked out it takes at least 69 minutes - 20 minutes more than it takes to get to Chichester's St Richard's Hospital, which is further away.

Havant Lib Dems have now started a petition, which was unveiled in St Peter's Square, Emsworth.

The petition will be presented to Mel Kendal, the councillor who heads transport in Hampshire.

Alex Payton, Havant's Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, who helped to collect signatures, said: 'A round trip depending on time of day can take up to three hours for many Emsworth residents.

'There are rail links too but they involve long walks for most people, some rather elderly, at each end.

'We think more direct action is now needed to convince bus operators that a direct service is necessary and viable.'

The petition comes after Havant's Oak Park Community Hospital was scrapped by NHS Hampshire because of a lack of money.

Meanwhile, Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital, in North Street, is set to be sold off by NHS Hampshire.

Cllr Kendal told The News that current transport provision was more than adequate.

He said: 'We are sympathetic to Emsworth residents' request and have worked closely with bus operators, the community transport sector, hospital authorities and Portsmouth City Council to try to deliver the best public transport links to the QA hospital.

'Emsworth is served by two principal services that, between them, provide four journeys an hour to Havant bus station.

'From Havant bus station there are six buses an hour from Havant to the hospital. Using service 700, with one change of bus, Emsworth residents can be at the QA hospital in 37 minutes.'

Cllr Kendal said the authorities and community groups provide patient transport, such as 'Call&Go' for the elderly and vulnerable.

He added: 'Over 700,000 a year is spent supporting local bus services in the Havant area.'