Patient transport service under renewed fire

In response to another complaint about the patient transport service on Skye, the Scottish Ambulance Service have again promised a “realignment of resources” to tackle the problem.

Seventy-six-year-old Alex Hamilton from Caroy near Struan in north Skye was due to receive a bone density scan in Dingwall on 16th January this year. His wife, Eileen, had confirmed a patient transport booking on 13th January.

“But they phoned us on the 15th, the day before the appointment, to cancel, and they told us to make another appointment,” she added. The next available appointment wasn’t until 5th March.

Mrs Hamilton said she “could not fault” the individuals employed by the service but that the booking system seemed to be in a “terrible state.” Earlier this week, Mr Hamilton was in the Dr Mackinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford being treated for pneumonia.

“I was told that patient transport vehicles were available in Easter Ross on 16th January,” added Mrs Hamilton. “It seems that Skye had to go without yet again.”

The Hamiltons’ experience  follows that of Morag Smart, (pictured) whose transport from Portree to the Belford Hospital in Fort William was cancelled, also the day before she was due to travel, early last month.

Her husband, Iain Smart, was later told that the vehicle had been double-booked by mistake. Mrs Smart was told by the booking service “just don’t turn up” when she asked how she was expected to attend her appointment.

Mr Smart had to drive his wife to Fort William even though the local GP recommended that she be transported in a specialist vehicle.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said there were two patient transport vehicles serving Skye and four staff, two full-time and two part-time.

He added: “Short-term sickness absence and vacancies in the scheduled care service has caused some recent difficulties in managing a small number of patient journeys. This situation is improving and we are sorry for any service disruption experienced by patients. We are currently reviewing the alignment of resources with the varying appoint­ment times in order to improve the service to patients.”