Lancashire Teaching Hospitals serve patients from a wide geographical area but are not readily accessible by public transport. This project seeks to address these transport issues in line with reforming the hospitals appointment system.
Background & Objectives
This project is one of ten trial projects being conducted under the umbrella of OPTIMUM2 - ‘Optimal Planning Through Implementation of Mobility Management’ - a European project whose primary aim is to improve the accessibility of busy locations in urban areas through mobility management.
The county of Lancashire is situated in the North West of England and within this county are two teaching hospitals, one based in the city of Preston and the other in Chorley Borough. The latter is responsible for the general health care of 390,000 people in Chorley, Preston, South Ribble and parts of the Ribble Valley and is also responsible for the specialist care of 1.5 million people in Lancashire and South Cumbria treating over 300,000 outpatients and 150,000 inpatients each year. The Preston site is the regional centre for cancer and renal treatments.
The hospitals therefore serve patients in from a wide area but are not easily accessible without a car. As well as being inconvenient for those with no car, it means a shortage of car parking spaces. Another problem is the long distance visitors must cover within the hospital grounds and between the various hospital facilities. Finally, the appointment system does not work properly when making several appointments on the same day.
This project seeks to implement mobility management measures in order to address travel to and between the hospital sites as well as integrating travel planning with the widespread reform of the appointment making process.
The following measures have been or will be implemented by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals:
- Personalised travel planning for individual patients
- Development of a Travel Bureau
- Buses on hospital grounds
- Real Time system display for patients in the reception area
- Ability to have a bus stop Real Time system as a desktop
- Discounts on the price of transport
- Better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians
- Car sharing introduced to the hospital
- Easy to use maps
- Leaflets and maps for the bus made specially for the hospital audience
- Timetables available in waiting rooms at surgeries and health centres
- Real time next bus information signs at the Royal Preston Hospital site
- Shuttle buses between the sites (approx 40Km)
- Shuttle buses also serving patents and visitors
- Extending the project to include staff
Lancashire County Council (LCC), in partnership with the local bus operators, has improved the quality of the services to the hospital with the introduction of newer buses, routes in to the site and more frequent services. In addition Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, (LTH), extended their inter-site shuttle bus to take patients as well as staff.
LCC have piloted the introduction of a Real Time information system in the Greater Preston area. This gives real times at the bus stops. In addition, a Real Time screen has been installed in the main reception area of the hospital that shows the times from the nearest bus stops. Posters around the whole hospital site show the location of each bus stop to back this up, this allows patients to find their stop from inside of the building. This has been extended so that the information can be accessed from the internet in order to check on the time of your bus from a stop nearby before you set out. Staff working at the hospital can take this a step further and bookmark their stop on their desktop.
The develop of a Travel Management System (TMS) has been running ahead of project schedule with the demonstration version branded as ‘Travel2Health’ which can be viewed on the website www.travel2health.co.uk This demonstration version was presented to the members of the North West NHS Travel Group and a copy of the presentation was logged on the group’s site at www.nwtravel.co.uk.
In order to improve the attractiveness of cycling to the hospitals it was necessary to improve the facilities available. This was achieved by installing new stands and enclosed Bike Bins to ensure that cycles left around the site were as safe as possible. Showers and changing areas have also been built. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals together with Lancashire County Council produced maps for the two sites that were distributed to staff together with leaflets on cycle maintenance and safety.
The problems faced by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust are not unique to the region or indeed to the UK. Creating a synergy between the appointment booking process - undertaken by clinicians and medical administrators on one hand and the operations managers and transport providers on the other - is a challenge for many European hospitals.