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New west Suffolk bus service launched from town to hospital

PUBLISHED: 14:45 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:19 01 August 2018

MP Matthew Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care, cuts the ribbon as the new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital is launched Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

MP Matthew Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care, cuts the ribbon as the new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital is launched Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A new bus service linking Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital has been launched with West Suffolk’s MP among the guests taking the first journey.

Matt Hancock, who is also secretary of state for health and social care, was joined by Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital, and councillors for the inaugural ride.

The service follows demand for a new way for people to travel from Haverhill to the hospital, and a six-month pilot started today.

Villages close to the A143 will also have the opportunity to use the service, which will operate, on demand, Monday to Friday between 7am-7pm.

Passengers will be charged fares in line with local bus services. A full return trip will cost £8.

MP Matthew Hancock at the launch of a  new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMP Matthew Hancock at the launch of a new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The service, which passengers can book through the online community transport service called ‘RIDE’, will be provided by The Voluntary Network - Suffolk County Council’s connecting communities operator in west Suffolk.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Hancock said: “It’s a great pleasure to be here for the inaugural service of the new Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital RIDE bus service.

“We’ve been campaigning for this for a long time. It’s good for people who want and need to use the West Suffolk Hospital from Haverhill.

“I’m hugely grateful for all of the support from Suffolk County Council and from West Suffolk Hospital for making this happen.”

MP Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk MP, cuts the ribbon as the new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital is launched  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMP Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk MP, cuts the ribbon as the new bus service connecting Haverhill and villages along the A143 to West Suffolk Hospital is launched Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, also attended the launch event along with Mike Hennessey, director of adult and community Services, and county councillors David Roach and Quillon Fox.

She said: “If you need to get to hospital for an appointment, want to visit someone or if you work at the hospital, you need viable travel options. “I am just one of the many people who have been asking for a direct bus service from Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital for years, so I’m absolutely delighted that Suffolk County Council has been able to offer this new service.

“I am especially pleased that people from the villages along the A143 route will be able to use the service.

“We now need people to make this a viable long-term option by using it as regularly as possible. With opportunities to book return journeys each day, I think this will help people make the journeys they need.”

Dr Dunn said: “It’s extremely good news that Suffolk County Council has put this pilot in place. We know there are transport challenges for our more rural patients.

“This service will provide a much needed solution for our patients and staff travelling to and from Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital, to access our CQC-rated ‘outstanding’ services more easily.”

All journeys must be booked in advance. To book a journey with RIDE, visit www.bookyourride.co.uk or call 01638 664304 Monday to Friday between 8am-4pm.

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