The work of a local project that supports people across the north east who are travelling to health and social care appointments has been recognised with a national award.
The Transport to Healthcare Information Centre (THInC) project recently received a Bronze award at the COSLA Excellence Awards, which celebrate the best in Scottish Local Government and their quality of service to the public.
The THInC project has continually sought to improve and expand since its inception over five years ago, when it launched with an innovative phone service to inform people of the most suitable options for getting to and from their healthcare appointments; the first of its kind in the UK.
The use of the centre has continued to grow year on year, with feedback from service users informing future decisions on the provision of new transport services and to help coordinate appointments with the availability of existing public and third sector transport.
By supporting patients in planning their travel, the information centre aims to help overcome any barriers patients have in travelling to appointments. In turn, seeking to contribute to a reduction in the number of missed appointments.
In 2015, the project developed to include a new pilot known as ‘THInC in the City’ which offers a wheelchair-accessible door to door pick up in Aberdeen City for people aged 55 and over who are unable to use conventional public transport to travel to their appointments. In 2016 the project expanded again, following the creation of the Integrated Health Care partnership, to include support for travel to social care appointments. More recently, the service is also being used as a booking line as part of another community transport pilot scheme for Aboyne Hospital.
The THInC project is part of the area’s Health and Transport Action Plan (HTAP) which is delivered by a range of key partner organisations across Grampian. The partners joined forces following a Nestrans study in 2007 which had concluded that transport issues were the biggest single reason why people missed, turned down, or chose not to seek medical help.
HTAP Programme Manager, Andrew Stewart, said “The project brings considerable benefits to many people, particularly the elderly, the vulnerable, and those in rural areas, many of whom may not be aware of the public transport connections available to them or who need transport more suited to their needs. Recognition at a national level is very welcome and demonstrates the progress being made by partner organisations in joining-up service delivery. I look forward to seeing the project continue to progress alongside the delivery of the wider action plan.”