Forcing elderly patients with an eye condition to travel to Bexhill for treatment has been heavily criticised and blasted as ‘cruel’.
Earlier this month the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust says the move, which will mean people with wet age-related macular degeneration needing follow-up treatment having to head to Bexhill instead of the DGH in Eastbourne, is to cope with growing demand.
But Meads resident Denis Roberts, who will be affected by the changes, called the situation ‘a shambles’.
The 76-year-old said, “My next appointment is in February which is at the DGH and then I’m starting on a different type of injection every two months and then I’ll be going to Bexhill.
“I could drive over there but I can’t drive back [after having treatment]. They don’t like you using public transport because you’ve had a procedure.
“It’s a complete shambles. It’s a break-up of the DGH, they are determined to shut the place down completely.”
Christine Holyoake, said her mother had been attending the clinics for the past two years and that she could not afford a taxi fare of £20 each way to travel to Bexhill, adding, “As this ‘age related’ disease affects mainly elderly patients, it seems cruel to send them to a hospital further away, when they are nearly blind and will be distressed by the new surroundings and routine of getting to the hospital.”
Sue Allen, Head of Nursing for Head & Neck Surgical Specialties, said patients attending the new clinic would benefit from reduced waiting times, adding, “To ensure we can deliver this service safely and cope with the growing demand for follow up treatment we are moving it to a dedicated specialist clinic at Bexhill Hospital. We recognise that this will be an inconvenience for some but our overriding priority is the delivery of a safe service.
“Some patients may be entitled to patient transport and we have written to everyone asking them to contact our patient transport provider directly so that an assessment of their eligibility can be carried out. The trust has negotiated reduced taxis rates for these patients, many of them are entitled to free bus travel and those travelling by car will not have to pay any parking charges.”