Background Hospitals tend to be in central locations with good links to public transport including dedicated bus stops etc. This is due to very high numbers of both staff and patients needing 24 hour access. Hospices however tend to be less central, in quieter locations, making them less accessible to those who can’t drive; be they patients, their relatives or staff. So how easy are they to get to? And how easy is this information to find?
Method For all the hospices within the West Midlands with an inpatient unit (IPU); we looked at the following: what information was available on their website regarding access via public transport; how to access the IPUs via public transport using ’traveline.org’ and Google. Finally, we contacted each hospice to ask if they had any written patient/visitor information regarding getting to the hospice.
Results We identified 12 hospices, and 15 IPUs in total. 5 had a link on their homepage indicating ‘how to find us’, 2 had information about nearest bus routes,. 3 had information about the nearest train station. When contacting the hospices directly, only 3 hospices had written information available to give to patients and their relatives. We found that the distance from a bus stop to the hospice varied from a 2 to a 15 min walk, and more than half have no or very limited Sunday service.
Conclusions Most of the hospices in the West Midlands region have no information available regarding accessing the site using public transport, and limited transport services especially off peak.
Does this feed in to the inequalities in access to hospice services already seen across socioeconomic groups? In the first instance we hope this will encourage hospices to provide more travel information for patients, but could this also guide service development and future hospice location planning?
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