The number of passengers using the free shuttle bus between The Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, and The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, is continuing to grow so the service has been extended for a year until March 2016.
Most recent figures collected by Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRW CCG) – which funds the bus – show that in March 2015 more than 200 people used the bus in a single week. This is almost triple the number of people using the bus back in November 2014.
This growing success means HRW CCG has awarded the contract to current providers Procters Coach Hire, of Leeming Bar, until 31 March 2016. This was following an open tender process.
One patient who recently used the service from the Friarage to James Cook said: “What a brilliant service this is. The driver was friendly and being dropped right outside the entrance was wonderful, but most of all the experience was stress free…
“Arriving for a procedure is stressful enough and wondering where, or if, you can park adds to this stress. The shuttle bus made it a no pain experience and, in addition, the staff on the ward were wonderful.”
The bus travels between the two hospitals ten times a day, and is available Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). It picks up from outside the Friarage’s main entrance, and drops off outside the women and children’s entrance at James Cook.
The bus is available to use for hospital patients and their families, and staff, not just for those accessing children’s and maternity services.
In partnership, HRW CCG and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced the shuttle bus at the beginning of October 2014 following changes to children’s and maternity services at the Friarage Hospital.
Dr Charles Parker, Topcliffe GP and HRW CCG governing body member, said: “The increase in passenger numbers demonstrates that patients, their relatives and staff members appreciate the bus service and find it useful.
“We know that transport links are very important, people tell us that. We are asking people to remember that the bus is here, it is free and it saves many people driving to Middlesbrough and paying for parking at James Cook Hospital.
“Given the bus’s growing popularity it makes perfect sense to keep the service going and we are delighted to be continuing to work with Procters Coach Hire. They have provided an excellent service so far.”
Over the coming months, the CCG will be surveying travellers to find out what they think about the service and why they are taking the journey.
For a full timetable click the link below: