Better bus service to Chase Farm Hospital
By early next year, Chase Farm, already one of the most digitally advanced hospitals in the country, with dedicated operating theatres and beds for overnight stays, expects to have between 400 and 700 more orthopaedic patients. It will be meeting a growing demand from an increasingly elderly population for surgery to hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, feet, ankles and hands.
There will be many more in-patients, outpatients and visitors travelling to Chase Farm from all parts of North Central London with its 1.6 million population. They will be coming from Camden and Islington – and even further afield – as well as from Enfield, Barnet and Haringey.
Yet in a booklet outlining these planned changes, North London Partners in health and care only say: “ We know that with any change there may be disadvantages for some people. Some patients may have to travel further on the day of their operation. Visitors may have to travel further.”
The Enfield Over 50s Forum insists this is nowhere near good enough. We think that London Mayor Sadiq Khan as the Transport for London (TfL) Chair should now be instructing TfL executives to update their route plans to Chase Farm, so as to reduce the discomfort and pain currently being experienced by patients while travelling for surgery.
The Forum has long argued that the most efficient public transport service to Chase Farm from anywhere in London is via the Piccadilly Line to step-free Oakwood station. At the moment, patients would need to get a bus to Enfield Town, walk to London Road and catch the W8 to Chase Farm. We are calling for a new re-routed bus direct to the hospital, just 2.6 miles away.
Forum member Nicola McDowell initiated a petition some years ago for such a bus which fell on deaf TfL ears. This has now become much more urgent with Chase Farm receiving many patients from North West London, some 14 miles away.
Rodney Allison, the Chair of Caversham surgery Patient Participation Group in Kentish Town said: “It’s ridiculous to make orthopaedic patients attend a hospital which requires a journey by public transport involving four changes and 40 minutes walking – that’s TfL’s best journey time.”
TfL also persists in suggesting patients who may have already travelled for an hour or more, alight at Southgate tube station (where there is an escalator) and then take the W9 to the hospital – a bus route involving 22 stops and an extra 34 minutes journey time, if there’s a clear run.
It is also advising patients from places such as Kentish Town and Gospel Oak to get to Finsbury Park or Highbury and Islington stations and then take the Great Northern line to Gordon Hill. (where there are steps to negotiate and no lift) – and then take a bus to Chase Farm.
Worst of all, the Royal Free NHS Trust responding to a critical report from Camden Healthwatch on patient access to Chase Farm, lists bus stops at Edmonton Green rail and Overground station. There is a good ten minute walk between the rail and bus stations; the gap alighting from the train to the platform is difficult and dangerous and there are two flights of stairs to negotiate.
Natalie Forrest, the Chase Farm Chief Executive, has met with Forum officers and promised full support for a renewed approach to TfL to review its outdated public transport advice to access the hospital.
The Forum will be urging the NHS, as part of its legally required equalities impact assessment, to place much greater emphasis on securing a public transport service to match its promise that the changes will lead to a “significant improvement” in patient care.
You can add your voice by writing to Freepost NLP Orth Consultation – no need for a stamp – and press for a new direct bus from Oakwood station to Chase Farm Hospital.