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Patient Transfers FAQs 9 December 2008

1. Why are you proposing to use a Manx2 charter for DHSS patients?

• It will provide a much-improved service for patients

• The frequency of scheduled air services to/from Liverpool is being reduced and costs have risen sharply, particularly since 1 August 2008, we need to search for alternatives to keep our costs under control and enable us to continue to provide a comprehensive and free travel service for our patients travelling to the UK.

• As part of that search we have identified an opportunity to link up with Manx2 to operate a dedicated, charter DHSS flight twice a day to/from Chester (Hawarden) Airport

• We intend to start this on a trial basis from 12 January 2009, initially for 6 months.

• This will give the department a choice of operators and routes.

2. So is this not really about cost cutting, then?

• This is not cost-cutting – it is attempting to bring a choice of operators and some stability into our Patient Transfers budget, improve services to patients and, at the same time, help us to AVOID having to cut costs in this valuable service.

• As our Minister has said many times, most recently in the round of public meetings, we need to ensure that we spend every penny of Health money wisely. It is wiser to spend it this way, which also has added benefits for patients, than on increased spending on scheduled services.

3. What will this mean for patients?

• Change to a smaller, 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft – more like an executive charter aircraft than an airliner.

• Departure times specifically set to meet the needs of patients’ hospital appointments.

• More comfortable and more spacious seats in single rows

• Faster transit times through Chester Airport - typically 5-10 minutes from aircraft seat to taxi seat.

• A more dedicated and personal service with better support through the airport.

• Shorter check-in times for the return flight – normally 30 minutes before the flight

• In many cases shorter travel times between the Isle of Man and the destination hospital.

• As they are dedicated to the DHSS the flights are more flexible, with a reduced chance of cancellations because of weather problems – they can wait until it gets better. That means fewer missed appointments.Manx2 normally keep a backup aircraft on the island so we expect to reduce the number of patient appointments that will need to be re-arranged as a result of operator technical or operational delays.

• Addresses some patient concerns about uneven customer service standards at other airports, especially for patients requiring assistance.

4. What are the disadvantages?

• The Dornier 228 will not have toilets or a cabin crew, and cannot take wheelchairs on board. This service will therefore not be suitable for some patients – they will continue to be routed via scheduled airlines.

• The Dornier has, though, very good low-level access for patients with limited mobility.

• Whilst patients going to Wirral hospitals will have a much shorter trip from the airport to the hospital, those going to the Liverpool hospitals will have a very slightly longer trip – the reverse of what happens at present.

5. So what happens if I need assistance during the flight?

• The aircrew are trained to, and can offer, immediate assistance if necessary. Flight times are, however, quite short.

• Dornier 228 and similar two-crew aircraft already operate throughout the world and from Ronaldsway, on occasions carrying patients.

• Patients with enhanced likelihood of requiring assistance will not be routed using this service.

6. So you will still need to use scheduled services to Liverpool?

• Yes, not least because we often send more people off island each day than this service can carry and we wish to encourage competition for our business.

7. How do you know it will work?

• We carried out a proving journey (looking at both the flight and onward land travel aspects) on 28 August with 6 ‘test passengers’ including a patient representative, nurses, and DHSS officers so we know that works well, but we need to make doubly sure that it works in every day practice.

8. How will patients travel on from Chester?

• As they do at present from Liverpool, by taxis funded by the DHSS. We are likely to be able to make more use of minibuses, however, to achieve greater cost-effectiveness for those patients able to travel by minibus.

• Some patients will still require individual taxis, however.

• Assistance from the taxi to the ward or reception area will still be a feature of the service.

9. Are there any other advantages?

• We may be able to offer a limited number of seats for use by those travelling to the North West of England on Isle of Man Government official business.

• It gives the DHSS greater flexibility in providing travel services for patients by giving us more choice.

10. When will the flights operate?

Current planning is:

• 07.15 Depart Ronaldsway – Arrive Chester 07.45

• 09.10 Depart Chester- Arrive Ronaldsway 10.00

• 11.00 Depart Ronaldsway – Arrive Chester 11.40

• 17.00 Depart Chester – Arrive Ronaldsway 17.40

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