Transport and carers rights debated

Transport and carers rights were the hot topics being discussed at an event run by a group which works to provide a voice for older people.

The annual general meeting of North Norfolk Older People's Forum was held on Thursday at Northrepps Village Hall.

As well as information stalls from a range of agencies including Age UK North Norfolk and North Norfolk Community Transport, presentations were also given from NHS North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (NNCCG), Norfolk County Council, the East of England Ambulance Service and private company ERS Medical, who are taking over Patient Transport Services from the East of England Ambulance Service in October this year.

One of the topics being debated was transport and how it could be used effectively by and for older people.

David Russell, chair of the forum, said: 'There is a big problem with transport in Norfolk. There are lots of organisations which can offer transport to people but it is knowing how to go about accessing it.'

Patient Transport Services (PTS) provides a vital lifeline for patients who are frail or need specialist assistance, to and from appointments at hospitals, treatment centres and other health related facilities.

A spokesman for ERS Medical said people would still be able to access the service in the same way, through their GPs or through county council services. He added that they were looking at how they could provide more flexibility with the service in the future.

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Mary Granville-White from the forum said as well as transport another of the issues they were facing was recruiting more volunteers, with the executive committee looking for more people to join them. She said as a result of the problem they had decided there would be no age barrier at the forum.

She said: 'The reason for that is that a lot of people younger than 50 are caring for older people who need help and support.'

She said that was also another focus of their efforts, social isolation, particularly for those who are caring for older people.

She said: 'The carers have issues of poor transport, or they do not have the respite care they require. What they are saying is that they need to have a life as well.'