A couple of weeks ago NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG announced that the new public transport links to help patients get from Faversham to Estuary View Medical Centre are in place. Since then, residents have written about how difficult and time-consuming the journey is and asked me what I am going to do about it.
I decided that the first thing to do was to see for myself, so last Friday I set out from Faversham with the aim of getting to an imaginary afternoon appointment at Estuary View. I opted for the train and bus route, as the quicker of the two options.
Here's a quick outline of my journey:
13.54 train Faversham to Whitstable, arrived 14.02 (on time)
14.06 bus from Whitstable Station to Estuary view…except I missed the bus. I looked in vain for a sign anywhere on the station saying “this way for buses to Estuary View”, and though there were signs on the station showing the locations of bus stops, it wasn’t clear which would be the right one.
14.43 (next) bus from Whitstable Station to Estuary view, although I had to send a text message for live bus times to find this out, as the timetable on the bus stop was out of date
15.03 Arrival at Estuary View
While I was at Estuary View, Dr Ribchester very kindly gave me a tour of the Centre. I was left in no doubt that there are impressive facilities there, and a welcoming environment. The only problem was that I then faced the journey home! This involved another bus, a 10 minute walk from Whitstable town centre to the train station, and then the train ride back to Faversham.
All in all, my conclusion was: the journey from Faversham to Estuary View by public transport is time consuming and far from straight-forward. The train and bus route was possible for me as someone who was healthy and mobile, but it would be hard to do if you were not fully mobile, unwell or if you had small children with you.
So what next? I have asked NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG if they can gather some data about how many people are affected by the poor public transport link. This will enable them to work out what the solution should be, since it may be the case that most people drive to the Centre and it’s a only a small number who need help with the journey – and any solution needs to be proportionate to the demand. I would also welcome letters or emails from anyone else who has tried the public transport route, or been forced to make other arrangements.