Knodishall: MBE told to find own hospital transport after service cut

AN MBE recipient has been told to make her own way to hospital for regular dialysis after her free transport service was cancelled.

Ann Bell, 72, who was recognised in the Queen’s honours for years of social work, used to be driven the five miles from home in Knodishall to her three weekly 7.30am appointments at Aldeburgh Community Hospital.

But as of next month, Mrs Bell will have to make other plans, following a spending review and withdrawal of the service.

Mrs Bell, who has never held a driving licence and cycled to social services appointments for almost 28 years, will have to be driven by her 82-year-old husband Roy, from the beginning of October unless deemed eligible to reclaim the cost of taxi fares. But the Bells are not confident of qualifying for the Healthcare Travel Scheme rebate.

Mrs Bell said: “I can’t drive and I can’t keep expecting my husband to. I don’t know how much longer he will be able to drive. Neither of us claim benefits so we’ll be left with no choice.

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“A taxi would be �13 and I can’t get a bus until 8.10am – not only that, but the nearest stop is a long walk.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said the changes were in line with national guidelines, adding that: “As a result, some patients have found that they are no longer eligible.

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“A lot of patients will still qualify for free travel but there is a group of people who may not be receiving any benefits who find that they have to make their own way to hospital. We obviously appreciate that this change can be very distressing for people but we have no choice under national policy.”

The hospital said it would be meeting patients and carers to answer any questions or concerns.

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