We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.
This from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. Ed
Don’t take away disabled bus passes
The Council has proposed taking bus passes away from people with disabilities before 9.30am and after 11pm on weekdays to save the Council money.
This is ridiculous as many people with disabilities are on low income or on benefits and need their bus passes to get to their frequent morning hospital appointments.
Many disabled people have health problems that require many routine appointments, some of which are morning appointments for tests and treatment, such as fasting blood tests and medical procedures, and they simply cannot afford the expensive Southern Vectis bus fares.
Does the IW Council want to delay health care to some of the people with the greatest health needs by keeping them from accessing the hospital?
Considering many disabled people can’t drive, walk, or cycle long distances due to their condition and/or medication, and that there are no alternatives to the bus for most, disabled people can’t afford to go to hospital.
If you know people with disabilities who have various autoimmune diseases and other conditions, you are aware that many suffer a lot in the mornings and rarely are out the door using the bus at early hours except to go to the hospital.
More traffic in the morning
Denying morning bus passes for people with disabilities would mean even more traffic on the roads during morning commutes. Patients with disabilities who are fortunate enough to have family and carers who can drive them to the hospital will add to the already massive tailbacks and problems at Coppins Bridge and St Mary’s Roundabout.
The Island isn’t like the mainland in many ways, especially when it comes to traffic, transportation options, and health care, and the Council needs to consider all of our unique cause-and-effect negative impact from these types of proposals.
The Council’s unrealistic solution
It possibly appears that the Council thinks to solve this dilemma that they can put the burden on the NHS of scheduling appointments into the very late morning and afternoon for people who have disabled bus passes.
Cabinet member for public transport, Cllr Ian Ward, said,
“We are also looking at the issue of medical appointments and whether the removal of the pre-9.30am free travel element would disadvantage some people, and through discussions with the clinical commissioning group whether this could be overcome in terms of appointment times to ensure those affected can still enjoy free bus travel.”
Besides the fact that many people with disabilities need morning hospital appointments for important medical reasons, there is no way for the hospital to keep track of who has a bus pass as they neither have regular access to that data, nor have a computer system that could cross-reference that information with scheduling.
Even if they could, St Mary’s would not want to delay medical care due to scheduling difficulties. It is challenging enough for the hospital to schedule the many Islanders whom they already do, let alone having to try to accommodate other scheduling criteria. All of this sounds like it will become an increasing burden on either the NHS staff or people with disabilities.
Will it actually save money?
So how much money is this really going to save in practice? What about all of the extra pensioners using their bus passes due to the dysfunctional floating bridge; wouldn’t it make more sense to fix that problem floating bridge than to penalise people with disabilities trying to go to hospital?
The Council didn’t open the consultation to anyone except people with disabilities and their carers, yet many family and friends wished to comment, as this affects them as well.
They wanted to speak on behalf of young people who have severe learning difficulties who can’t afford to go to volunteer. They would have advocated for their neighbours whom they help do their shopping. So many people didn’t even know the consultation was happening by how the Council worded it as if it were a small change and a good thing.
Stop picking on people with disabilities
There are so many ways for the Council to save money. Please stop picking on people with disabilities, and look at the big picture. Taking the wrong action could end up costing the Council more money in traffic, adult social care, and other knock-ons from poor health, in addition to jeopardising timely health care for some of the most vulnerable people.
Bus passes keep pensioners and people with disabilities active and healthy, therefore reducing the need to use the NHS. The bus passes cost the government and the taxpayers less than people getting even sicker and using the NHS more.
Let’s keep people with disabilities healthy.