Skybus to adapt aircraft to carry people with mobility difficulties
As part of their ongoing commitment to the Isles of Scilly, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has secured part funding for a stretcher conversion kit for its aircraft which will enable them to transport people with mobility difficulties.
Part funded by the Isles of Scilly Local Action Group (LAG) incorporating funding from the EU, DEFRA, and LEADER’ an application for financial support was approved last week [Thursday 2 August] and, in partnership with the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company will be funding the remainder of the cost of purchasing the equipment.
Jeff Marston, Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company said, “During the past year we have been working hard to find ways in which to assist islanders with mobility difficulties who need to travel to and from the mainland for non urgent hospital appointments or treatment. We identified an option to convert one of our Islander aircraft through a stretcher conversion kit and I’m delighted that the LAG and NHS are supporting us in this initiative.”
At present, people who need to travel to and from the mainland must be able to board Skybus or Scillonian III unaided. It is possible to travel with a wheelchair and some assistance can be provided, but on occasion it can be unsafe for individuals to travel.
To address this issue, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has identified a solution in the form of an aircraft stretcher conversion kit. The equipment can be installed into an Islander aircraft within approximately 30 minutes. The conversion means that a person can be lifted into the aircraft and secured for the flight with special safety belts comfortably. There is also space for them to be accompanied on the journey.
Programme Manager of Isles of Scilly Local Action Group (IOS LAG) Amanda Pender said, “The IOS LAG is delighted to be able to offer support to a project that seeks to provide an innovative and long term solution to an issue that has caused concern to many local residents. LAG Members were particularly impressed with the level of partnership working demonstrated within the application, with all parties working closely to realise a common goal.”
Siân Dennison, Assistant Director of Commissioning for Cancer and Specialist Services at NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said, “The PCT recognises the need for ensuring safe and accessible transport and is delighted to work with partners to support this initiative.”
The purchase of the stretcher conversion kit will be finalised later this month, with a view to having the facility to offer stretcher transport in autumn 2012. As the aircraft will need to be converted to accommodate the equipment, the service will be for non urgent cases and will have to be booked in advance.
Once the equipment has been purchased and the service is available, the NHS will manage bookings. The cost of travel and details regarding booking are being agreed and this information will be made available as soon as the service is available to book.