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Felixstowe: NHS bosses urged to think again over free hospital transport rules

15:00 26 February 2013

Wheelchair-bound Debbie Farrow who has been told she no longer qualifies for hospital ambulance transport and has to pay £50 for a special taxi each time she has an appointment.

Wheelchair-bound Debbie Farrow who has been told she no longer qualifies for hospital ambulance transport and has to pay £50 for a special taxi each time she has an appointment.

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WHEELCHAIR-bound Debbie Farrow is today calling for a rethink over free hospital transport after being told she would have to pay for a taxi to appointments.

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She is one of many across the county who have been told they no longer qualify for a lift to and from their home – and are fit enough to get themselves to hospital.

New rules say the only people eligible for free transport are those that need medical support during their journey, and if they can use public transport in normal circumstances, they can use it instead of an NHS vehicle.

Ms Farrow, 43, of Crown Street, Walton, Felixstowe, claimed said the £50-plus cost of a round trip in an adapted taxi is crippling her finances.

She suffers from a range of illnesses including osteoporosis of the spine and severe brittle asthma, is blind in one eye, has an over-active thyroid, poor circulation and a hernia.

She said: “I think it is disgusting that the transport has been stopped and I now have to fund it out of my own pocket – if I need two or three appointments in a short space of time, there is no way I can afford it.

“I am confined to a wheelchair and have always had transport provided for my regular appointments at outpatients and various clinics. I need help in and out of the vehicle and there are times I have needed oxygen.

“When I was at the hospital last week, I heard two that people who should have arrived for appointments that afternoon had not turned up because they could not get there, so this is affecting a lot of people.”

Hospital transport rules have been changed to save taxpayers’ money and because it was felt previously people were receiving free lifts who could easily arrange their own transport. However, there has been criticism of the changes with South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo saying the system had gone from being “too lenient” to the other extreme.

A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said: “Since September 2011, national guidelines issued by the Department of Health have been applied to ensure that those patients who are eligible for free NHS funded transport are given it.

“If a patient feels they have been unfairly declined access to free NHS-funded transport, they should contact the NHS Suffolk Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 389 6819 to appeal against the decision.”

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10 comments

  • To be fair I do agree with the other responses as the higher rate of mobility allowance is quite generous and its what DLA should be used for, help with care including mobility. Also there are charities who do offer services such as transport for a low rate and there are buses and trains regularly from Felixstowe to Ipswich which can take wheel chairs(Buses are free with the disabled pass as well). If a taxi is the preferred choice then your going to pay the price.

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    mr_tall

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • Debbie wants to think herself lucky then, my step-daughter had to go to stanmore in london for two operations at different times of the year and was in for about eight weeks at a time and it cost the families to go see her then she had clinics every week for six months and that is where her DLA came in. She managed that distance so felixstowe to ipswich and back should be a doddle.

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    pukkatrukka

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • DLA - Disabled Living Allowance is there to provide money towards transport - those in receipt of the higher allowance can even get a car! Although I do sympathise with Debbie, if she is getting this allowance she should be using it to pay for the taxis etc. We all know everyone is having to cut back, and the NHS needs the money for treatments not to be a taxi service.

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    N M

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • She should count herself lucky that she can have her appointments at Ipswich hospital. I have to travel to London for most of my appointments and even surgeries as there is no one local who can treat me.

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    Pepperpotty

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I am sorry but that is exactly what DLA is for - these types of situations. The problem is that people had it too good for too long so it became an expectation. For all of us in receipt of DLA, those days are now gone and the benefit must now be spent on the items and services it was intended for in the first place.

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    Just Me

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I am under the impression that free hospital transport is provided to those who genuinely have no other way of getting to hospital appointments, not due to cost implications but purely the fact that they require a level of assistance that would not be provided by a taxi driver. It is unfortunate that taxi fares are so high but I, along with everyone else have to pay for things that we don't necessarily want to. For people with no car and hospital appointments outside of Suffolk, the cost would be high but there are no other options available to them.

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    Anon

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Whats wrong with the bus?

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    zaax

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • why not move closer to the hospital or even just ipswich ? no friends or family to help out ? sounds unfortunate ! were all broke love..

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    rumbler

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • not much sympathy on here hope your not reading this debbie. lol

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    rumbler

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • Though i have every sympathy with debbie farrow over her range of illnesses, she would probably be in reciept of disability living allowance, and further disability premiums in her income support, and this is given to pay for extra costs due to her disability. I think there are thousands of people out there that are going to suffer from the social security cutbacks, and some of them are already having to struggle on less then £80 a week, so sorry debbie , but use your dla to pay for it.

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    2plus2equals5

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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