Vulnerable could suffer

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The elderly and vulnerable will be seriously inconvenienced after changes in the eligibility rules for a hospital transport service, it has been claimed.

Stanley Thompson, from Peacocks Close in Cavendish, has been using Suffolk’s Patient Transport Service to travel to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for years.

But last week, Mr Thompson, 86, and his wife Joan were shocked to discover he was no longer eligible for the service.

“He has been going there on and off for years with skin cancer and heart problems,” said Mrs Thompson.

“But when I rang up to agree transport for an eye appointment on Tuesday, I was told to make my own arrangements. I was very surprised.”

She said she was instructed to contact Go START – the community transport service for the Sudbury area.

“I spoke to a woman at Go START and she said it had been overwhelmed with people calling about similar difficulties and was struggling to cope,” said Mrs Thompson.

“Fortunately, we can make alternative arrangements but this could seriously inconvenience lots of elderly and vulnerable people.”

Tracy Dowling, NHS Suffolk’s director of strategic commissioning, said: “If people are not eligible, they will be offered advice on travelling by car, or given details of the alternative transport options available, including bus and community transport schemes.”