Elderly couple cancel future DGH appointment after transport ordeal

AN ELDERLY Seaford couple who were left stranded for hours after attending Eastbourne DGH have cancelled a future appointment.

Councillor Carolyn Lambert complained on Roy and Shirley Linsell’s behalf following the incident. The pair had been using the fairly new service Patient Transport Bureau (PTB) which coordinates transport for residents to and from hospital who have difficulties in making their own way there. The couple are in their 80s and Mrs Linsell is a carer for her husband who has serious and chronic health problems.

On the day in question they had been taken to the hospital by ambulance but when they were due to return home no ambulances were available.

In a letter of complaint to Brighton and Hove PCT Cllr Lambert wrote, ‘After waiting for an hour-and-a-half they asked if any volunteer drivers were available but none were.

‘Of the two other people waiting for transport, one had apparently been waiting from 11.30am to 5.45pm.

‘The Linsells eventually got home, but were so stressed by their experience that their cancelled their next appointment which is clearly inadvisable.’

The PTB is the service that controls and allocates activity to the Patient Transport Service.

The PTB for assessing patients for non-emergency transport and booking transport is part of NHS Sussex. The PTS is provided by Secamb.

A spokesperson for NHS Sussex said, “We are very sorry to hear about this particular experience of the patient transport service and we are working closely with the providers of the Patient Transport Service to look at what happened.

“We would like to assure all of our patients that this was a very rare occasion and that we are working hard to ensure that all of our patients receive a high quality, effective service.

They added, “The patient transport bureau has been set up to ensure that local people, who are eligible for non-emergency transport to and from healthcare appointments, are able to access a consistently high quality service.

“All of our staff are fully trained and are ready to assess and arrange bookings with the patient transport service.

“We are aware that some people have been affected by some technical difficulties we have experienced with our telephone system, and the high number of calls – both general enquiries and booking requests – we have been receiving since the bureau was set up, and we are sorry for that.

“In order to help people access the service, we have extended the opening hours of the bureau until 10pm every night of the week, and we are also recruiting a further six members of staff to the team, and upgrading our IT system to speed up the booking process.

“We would also advise that at the moment mornings are particularly busy for calls, and so if your call isn’t urgent we would recommend phoning after 2pm.”