'Local treatment' call for patients in Cornwall

Hospital ward
Image caption The health watchdog wants community hospitals to deal with more appointments

People in Cornwall are having to travel long distances for health services that should be available locally, a health watchdog has said.

A panel from Cornwall Council's health watchdog committee was investigating into the provision of day case surgery and outpatient clinics.

It said more local services and more help with transport and travel costs was needed.

The county's NHS said it was working to provide more services in the community.

Mobility and age

The watchdog panel said that it found people had difficulty getting to appointments at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro while many community hospitals were under-used for clinics and minor procedures.

It recommended more clinics and operations should take place at St Michael's Hospitals in Hayle and West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance.

Councillor Chris Goninen of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: "We have one district general hospital in Truro and to pull people to that hospital is not acceptable.

"We've got to get more people to have their services closer to where they live."

It added that mobility and age should be taken into account when making appointments, and there should be more help with travel arrangements and costs.

Amanda Fisk, the acting director of commissioning and strategic development of NHS Cornwall, said more work was needed "to bring as many appointments out [from centralised departments] as soon as possible".

She added: "However, we have over the last year we have made 19,000 appointments in the community and that number's increasing all the time."

She said that a new hospital referral system was to be introduced and it would help patients find the most convenient appointment and offer more help to get to it.

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