Saturday, February 1, 2014
The operator of the district ‘ring and ride’ bus service is coming on board with plans for a new bus to take patients to local hospitals.
The idea for a new vehicle was first proposed by Budleigh Salterton Town Council and town mayor Steve Hall, to help take patients to the revamped Budleigh Salterton Hospital, which is being turned into a community health hub concentrating on day car services.
It has now been agreed that the bus will cover the whole of the NHS’s Woodbury, Exmouth and Budleigh (WEB) locality, and will also be able to take patients to Exmouth Hospital.
The Exmouth and District Community Transport Group, which runs bus services including the ‘ring and ride’, has agreed to run the service, which would use a nine-seater bus like the group’s existing ‘Whizabout’ vehicle, which is capable of taking two wheelchairs.
The cost of the bus will be £25,000, for which a grant application is to be made to East Devon District Council’s Parishes Together Fund by several local parishes, including Budleigh, East Budleigh, Otterton and Lympstone.
Although this application, if successful, would cover the cost of the bus itself, the community transport group would still have to raise funds to cover the bus’s running costs, which could be up to £30,000 a year, or around £20,000 a year if volunteer drivers can be found.
Group chairman Jill Elson said the new hospital project was ‘very exciting’ to be a part of, and added that the new bus would not compete with existing driving schemes.
She said: “We are going to be working with all the other voluntary car services to co-ordinate their transport. We are not providing that.
“We are going to be concentrating on those who cannot use a car - maybe wheelchair users, maybe on frames, but all people with mobility problems.
“We will be signposting [other] people to the voluntary car services.”