Published: 18/02/2018 19:00 - Updated: 15/02/2018 13:59

Frail pensioner told she cannot get free lift

Written byNicole Webber


Jean Mcintosh
Jean Mcintosh has been told she has to get a taxi to Raigmore Hospital.

AN 86-year-old woman with mobility issues was moved to tears after being told that she does not qualify for free transport to hospital.

Jean Mcintosh of Bruce Gardens Inverness was left in a state of complete shock after being told she would need to find her own way to her hospital appointment.

The Scottish Ambulance Service was not able to provide a reason as to why she no longer qualifies after previously receiving help.

Mrs Macintosh suffered a fall at the end of 2017 which resulted in broken ribs and a stay in hospital.

Since then she has been unsteady on her feet and is suffering from severe pain in her pelvis. She cannot leave the house on her own and relies heavily on her zimmer frame to get about.

"There is too much of this going about and people are saying nothing about it," she said.

"I will be 87 in April and I just want to know why am I being denied transport. It has really upset me and I haven’t been right since, I haven’t wanted to eat anything."

She added: "I only get out of the house once a week and I have had several falls, cracked three ribs last year and was in RNI for a fortnight."

She phoned the patient transport helpline when she received a hospital appointment letter and was questioned over how she gets her food shopping.

Mrs Macintosh was also asked how she made her way to the GPs and explained that she is forced to take a taxi back and forth to make the short journey to the Riverside Practice. She worries about falling on these journeys and could not afford to do get a taxi all the way to the hospital.

"From the very start I thought ‘that is not a nice way to talk to someone’ and then she kept saying I needed to pay for a taxi." Mrs Macintosh said.

"Have you any idea how much money that is to a pensioner? I said ‘come on please have a heart’."

"Any other time over the past 10 years that I have needed transport to Raigmore I have got it. I feel like I have no faith in the NHS anymore."

Her husband David died nine years ago and since then she has struggled with hospital and doctors appointments.

"I just feel so let down. To be treated like this at my time of life is terrible and I know that I am not the only one. That is why I wanted to do something."

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We carefully assess every single request to the Patient Transport Service; doing so means we can continue to provide a good quality service for patients who are most in need – those who need oxygen or specialist care during a trip, for example, or for whom travelling independently might put them at risk."

The spokesman encouraged her to contact them again for reassessment and also confirmed that the questions asked were kept under constant review and were continually updated.

Age UK is currently operating the Painful Journeys Campaign to find out why elderly people have to use public transport for their hospital appointments and will be contacting the government to try and improve the situation.

Age Scotland’s chief executive, Brian Sloan said: "We understand the Scottish Ambulance Service is not able to provide transport for everyone, but vulnerable patients should not have to fork out expensive taxi fares for routine appointments. Sadly this situation is not unique, and we often hear from frail, older patients who struggle to get to hospital.

"We would like to see the Highland Council, NHS Highland, and the ambulance service work together to find affordable solutions to ensure older patients and those with disabilities can access the healthcare they need."

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