Lift organised for pensioner who missed hospital appointments due to policy change

Photo: Graham Richardson.

A pensioner who missed hospital appointments after he was refused a lift following a change in patient transport services policy has managed to make his latest appointment after the community spoke up on his behalf.

It emerged this week that the elderly cancer and eye disease patient has gone blind in one eye after being left unable to reach urgent hospital appointments due to new transport rules being imposed by NHS bosses.

The Wensleydale octogenarian said he “did not want to make a fuss” about being unable to make his chemotherapy appointment on Wednesday this week, after suddenly becoming ineligible to use non-emergency ambulances provided by the NHS Patient Transport Service.

The elderly patient, who needs regular injections for a degenerative eye disease and is currently undergoing chemotherapy, had been reassessed and refused patient transport despite living 60 miles from James Cook Hospital.

His daughter discovered that he has missed at least two previous eye appointments.

Following intervention by Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie, who was alerted to to the case by members of the Upper Dales Community Partnership, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG managed to get a patient transport car to take him from Hawes to the James Cook for his appointment. Transport was also arranged to bring him home.

The man will also be able to get transport to future appointments now that his case has come to light.

Cllr Blackie said the CCG admitted a mistake had been made when the man requested transport.

A recording of the phone call showed he had stated he was undergoing chemotherapy, which should have meant he qualified for patient transport.

Cllr Blackie said: “What worries me is that there will be many other people being given a flat refusal for PTS transport they have had in the past, following a Spanish Inquisition style interrogation of their request by PTS controllers who do not have the first clue about the special circumstances of the Upper Dales.

“They do not know the distance we are from the hospitals that serve us, and they are not in the position of mentioning it to a community organisation like the UDCP or connecting with a councillor who does not take no for an answer, and is prepared to challenge the local NHS when it makes dreadful decisions like they did in this case.”

The pensioner’s daughter has thanked staff from the Upper Dales Community Partnership and Cllr Blackie for intervening on her father’s behalf.

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