By Will Lethbridge
Will recently caught up with Derek Thomas MP for St Ives which includes the Isles of Scilly to talk about a wide range of subjects. These subjects included the proposal to reinstate a regular scheduled helicopter service between the Isles of Scilly and the Mainland and the ongoing NHS Patient Transport Consultation.
Will started off by asking Derek for an update on the proposal to reinstate the regular scheduled helicopter service between the Islands and mainland, and the application to build a new heliport in Penzance.
Derek said “The decision is imminent, certainly in the next few weeks and hopefully it will all go ahead and we’ll the get the helicopter up and running next March. I recognise it’s quite a big proposal and it has impact on the Steamship Company. In relation to that I’ve been doing considerable work before Christmas in getting the investment that we need that we lost previously in the last Parliament for Penzance harbour. The Helicopter is welcome, I think it’s the right thing to do but it’s also equally important that I work, and we work extremely hard to make sure the incvestment allows the Steamship operation to work at it’s best and give customers and passengers the best possible experience.”
Will followed up by asking if Derek believes that there is a market that’s there for both operators. “It really difficult question to answer because we won’t know who will chose to fly on the helicopter as opposed to the Fixed Wing (Skybus). It will be (Helicopter) will be more expensive there is no question about that.”
Derek went on say “The real test will be for both the people who run the helicopter and the people who run the airplanes and ship will be how creative they are to use the resources they have and the assets they’ve got to provide the best possible service. I think it goes beyond what happens between the Isles of Scilly and Penzance. There is a demand I believe for businesses in the west of Cornwall to find quicker routes into London and I think it’s something Skybus can do and we’ve have had a number of conversations about making it possible in the quieter months.”
The conversation moved on the subject of the NHS Patient Transportation Consultation.
Derek said “Firstly I can not stress enough for everyone on the Isles of Scilly to take part in the consultation. Please don’t assume it’s a done deal and that your views don’t count.”
He went onto to say "I can absolutely assure you that the point I’m making is that people should have access to health and social care and we need to look at that very carefully and we must make sure people are not put off getting the treatment and care they need simply because of the cost of it. I believe the NHS should be free at the point of use and that includes accessing it. I can certainly make that case but we need everyone else to take part in the consultation and make that case and take part in the consultation.”
A meeting to discuss recent patient transport proposals has been arranged for 23rd February on Scilly with the location and time to be confirmed. You can hear the full interview with Derek below.