The Journey of two Plaid Councillors to Llanfrechfa Grange Hospital

Charlotte Bishop and Steve Skivens ready to undertake the epic journey

Councillor Charlotte Bishop, deputy leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly County Borough Councillor and fellow Plaid councillor Steve Skivens yesterday undertook what turned out to be an epic trip via public transport from Abertridwr to the new Grange University Hospital, Cwmbran.

They wanted to experience for themselves the length of time and difficulties faced by residents in local areas in making this journey.

Three buses, two interchanges and over two hours later, this is their story: 

Steve has written about their experience as follows:
Yesterday, I undertook a short journey from Abertridwr to Cwmbran to the new hospital at Llanfrechfa Grange- a journey of some 20 miles across valleys to the east.
My reasons were to see for myself what difficulties are experienced by people in travelling to the hospital in Llanfrechfa Grange.
I was joined on my journey by Councillor Charlotte Bishop from Abertridwr who has also received numerous complaints from residents and reported difficulties.
To provide some context; in Caerphilly, the wards of Penyrheol, Trecenydd, Energlyn, Abertridwr and Senghenydd have had several changes to health care facilities. These changes have brought some benefits but more often unforeseen and difficult consequences.
Previously, the area was served by The Caerphilly Miners' Hospital at Caerphilly,, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff and then the Ysbwty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach. But further changes to the default hospital to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and again the latest change to the new hospital at Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran.
A quick glance online suggests six methods of getting to the new hospital. However, the reality from Abertridwr drops by three to taxi, private car, or bus. The £40 taxi fare is beyond reach of many on low incomes. Again, access to a private vehicle is reducing in some areas due to environmental or financial circumstances. So, we are left with one real choice to use the public transport system and use the bus services.
We caught a bus from The Square at Abertridwr, to Caerphilly, a second bus to Newport. Then a walk to a second bus station and a third bus to the hospital. Cost per person was £9.10 for one way. Buses were on time with limited delays between arrivals/departures and generally comfortable.
However, this single outward journey took 2 hours and 10 minutes. Tiring, confusing, and frustrating.
Again, if we consider this short but increasingly utilised journey as an environmental issue there are some heavy considerations. Three main bus stations, three separate busses and half-empty vehicles. Is this sustainable when we are faced with a climate emergency?
Our integrated transport system must do, what it states on the tin.
The issue is not really about the means of transport or the care standards at the hospital. It is about the logistics of the whole issue.
Every time a strategic decision is undertaken to centralise change, withdraw or increase infrastructure and facilities, it must take a view of the end users.
If we add in further considerations of those disabled, elderly, and infirm people in pain or anxious, is our system really considering the operational realities.
I am sure commercial organisations consider the footfall and organisation well in advance of implementing major investment and change.
Our public sector must be as astute in its big decisions. Whether it be out-of-town retail, industrial or leisure parks OR new hospitals, care facilities, schools, and other institutions we must look at the difficulties in access. Particularly, when cross valley links are very poor in south-east Wales and other areas.
I hear continuously the words of well-being and support for our future generations. But those making the big decisions should make a holistic appraisal, risk assessment, and look at the operational and logistical issues. Well before they start designing solutions.
So simple matters between private and public organisations may have made today's journey a little simpler. A pre-booking facility via the internet, website, or app. A single ticket through route or simple instructions at each location for the weary traveller.
But it’s the who and why of the instigator of big changes in our society’s facilities, who needs to answer why is it so difficult.
We need future-proof decision-making up and down our society. To secure the well-being of Our Future Generations.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Phillip Nifield
    published this page in News 2022-07-26 11:51:14 +0100

A New Caerphilly starts with you!

They have the money but we have the people. If everyone who visits this website joins our movement, we can make Caerphilly matter! .