A petition to save the crucial shuttle bus service from Bridlington to Scarborough Hospital has been launched.
The 15-seat bus service is set to terminate on July 17 following an announcement from Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which says it cannot fund the bus any more, leaving residents in turmoil.
Bridlington South Ward councillor Shelagh Finlay is one of many who are fighting to save the service which transports thousands of people each year.
She said: “For a member of the public below 65, it can cost £11.50 for a train and bus up to the hospital from Bridlington. People would simply not be able to afford to go.
“We do not have the services here like at Scarborough. We have an ageing population in Bridlington and there are so many people who rely on this service and will miss it. Not just those for appointments, but those family visiting.”
In 2007 the Independent Reconfiguration Panel advised to take the acute medical services out of Bridlington and transfer to Scarborough, with recommendations of extra funding the input into the ambulance service and began a trial of the shuttle bus in June 2008.
Manager of West Hill Community Centre, Cec Lindley, is an organiser of a petition against the closure of the free-of-charge shuttle bus, already distributing leaflets around the town.
“It is a huge service for the town and the future is looking bleak without it,” she said. “This is why we need to get the community behind a petition to fight this all the way. I would love this to work similarly to the successful fight to save Bridlington Hospital. The Scarborough and Ryedale CCG are cutting off our access to NHS services.”
The Hospital shuttle bus to take the extra patients and visitors the 22-mile journey to Scarborough has operated 12 hours a day, seven days a week and was to be centrally funded.
“I don’t think they realise what this is going to do for the town,” said Jean Wormwell, secretary of Pensioners’ Action Group East Riding. “We have started a petition and MP Greg Knight has been approached too. The impact on the town will be grim to say the least. Something has to give. Either we get the services back at Bridlington, or we need or bus service saving.”
Janine Ward, 48, of Marine Valley, Flamborough, suffers from a rare lung condition called aspergillosis hypersensitivity paumoatitis, and relies on the service for her trips to hospital.
“I am absolutely disgusted that the bus is stopping. The drivers also do not know what will be happening with their jobs which is a disgrace. I can be in hospital sometimes for three weeks and my mum would use the shuttle bus to come and see me every day. Without it, she simply could not afford a £33 taxi fare there and then back. The service itself is absolutely fantastic, you cannot fault it. It is reliable and the drivers are always friendly and it is just convenient. It will be terrible for the area to lose such a valuable service. Patients also need that family support. If I am in hospital for three weeks, the support from my mum is everything.”
The Scarborough and Ryedale CCG failed to provide a statement to the Free Press saying it was a “complicated” matter and to ask the East Riding CCG for more information.
A spokesperson for East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “East Riding of Yorkshire CCG has been made aware of the decision by Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commission Group to cease funding the shuttle bus service to/from Bridlington and Scarborough. As an NHS organisation we continue to deliver non-emergency patient transport services (PTS) for suitable patients referred for consultations, treatment or procedures provided within the hospital or community setting.
“Patients who believe they are suitable for PTS and need transport should call 0300 3302000 as soon as they receive an appointment.”
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said that some patients are eligible for ambulance transport, and for those who are not there are several organisations locally that provide transport support. Patients and visitors can find more information about local travel options on their website: www.york.nhs.uk/travel.
The Free Press has started a petition against the closure of the shuttle bus service. To get involved just buy a copy of the paper, fill in the coupon on page 12 and hand it in at the Bridlington Town Council office on Quay Road.