Nearly a year ago, along with a delegation of users of the RUH Hopper, we attended the Wiltshire Health and Wellbeing Board at County Hall and presented a petition of thousands calling for continued funding for this valuable service that ensures safe access for many to the RUH Bath. We distinctly remember the Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, Baroness Jane Scott, telling us that we should not unnecessarily worry local people – the Hopper was going to continue.
Well, now we know the truth. The Hopper has been axed.
Both the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (WCCG) and Wiltshire Council have passed the buck between each other. Neither of them was prepared to commit to future funding. Both blamed each other for this failure. The suggested alternative modes of transport – the Arriva Non Emergency Passenger Transport (NEPT) scheme and local Link schemes – in no way can cover the vital service that the Hopper does.
Between them, the WCCG and Wiltshire Council have behaved shamefully. They have refused to work together for the benefit of many local people who depend on the Hopper service. Investment in the Hopper would have saved both much money as it guaranteed that people could keep their appointments at RUH Bath. Without it many are likely to end up hospitalised or in long term care.
This shame is compounded by the refusal of Wiltshire Council to discuss this matter in public at the scheduled Cabinet meeting. We can only deduce that they didn’t want to have to face the public. And account for their actions – or lack of them.
Make no mistake; many local people – many old and frail – are going to suffer. All for a lack of joint working and failure to see and understand the bigger picture. Shame on Wiltshire Council and Wilshire Clinical Commissioning Group – and particularly the Wiltshire Health and Wellbeing Board.
Independent Wiltshire Councillors