Star gives shuttle push

01:43, Jan 31 2009
RIDING IN STYLE: Hollywood star Lucy Lawless is backing a Starship study into providing a shuttle service to take outpatients to appointments. She is joined by patient Sam Bradcock, 12, right, and his brother Joshua Te Ari Bradcock, 7.

Starship hospital is looking at providing a shuttle service for outpatients to cut the thousands of costly no-shows each year.

Kiwi superstar and Starship patron Lucy Lawless is supporting the idea.

Outpatient clinics cover all medical specialities and cater for follow-up visits or for children referred to a specialist by their doctor.

More than 66,000 appointments are made at the clinics each year but about one in 10 don’t show up.

Clinical services general manager Kay Hyman says that has repercussions for the hospital and child.

"You don’t get an outpatient appointment unless you need it. Children could get sick or their illness could return if they don’t get the necessary follow-up."

Advertisement

Staff time is also wasted when patients don’t arrive.

Mrs Hyman says research into why appointments aren’t kept shows transport is a problem.

"We recognise it’s difficult for parents with other children as well as their sick child. Public transport is available but it’s not always easy with two or three kids.

"On a horrible wet day you can see why staying home seems easier."

Mrs Hyman says some parents don’t realise the importance of keeping appointments when their child appears to be healthy.

Starship is working with NZ Bus on a feasibility study to see whether an express bus service would work.

"We want to come up with a plan for transport from residential areas that allows people to keep their appointments," she says.

Patients are being asked whether they would use a door-to-door service or be willing to get themselves to designated pick-up spots.

Mt Roskill mum Simone Bradcock says a shuttle service is a great idea because she wouldn’t have to rely on her mother to drive her and her two sons.

"It would be really helpful for a lot of single-parent families and elderly folk," she says.

"Lots of grandparents look after kids these days."

Lucy is encouraging people to respond to the survey.

"If it proves as useful as we think it will we can help families get to the service. It’s no good having a service people can’t get to," she says.

"If this had been around when my daughter was little we would have used it."

The star is on a three-week holiday for a succession of family birthdays.

She recently finished filming Bedtime Stories, a comedy with Adam Sandler due out at Christmas.

To give feedback on the shuttle service call 0800-555-855.

East And Bays Courier