'EVERYONE is worse off without hospital shuttle bus'
Elderly, vulnerable and young patients will all be placed at a higher risk with the loss of the hospital shuttle bus, it is claimed.
The Bridlington to Scarborough Hospital shuttle bus will cease running from next Sunday (January 29).
It follows a five-month trial that began in July last year - but East Riding of Yorkshire Council says not enough people are using the service.
Funding was also supported using funds from Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Bridlington Town Council.
Jean Wormwell, secretary of Pensioners' Action Group East Riding (PAGER), has blasted the decision that was announced this morning (Monday January 16).
She said: "They know you can't always have a full bus. I agree it's a bit difficult to work out, but it's going to be very difficult for people to get to Scarborough and they are going to have to use Bridlington Hospital."
Jean has also warned of increased pressure on the ambulance service, which she fears will become "inundated".
"There's a lot of elderly people in Bridlington. And people with long-term health conditions have a lot of appointments that can't be dealt with in Bridlington, because there are no consultants." Jean adds.
And patients without transport of their own will face being out of pocket, because they will choose to take taxis to Scarborough, Jean claims.
"People will be more likely to get taxis because they can't cope with the bus journeys. They are looking at £30 a time.
"I would find it difficult - I would have to get the bus from here to the Bus Station in Bridlington. Then, from the Bus Station, I would have to get one to the Railway Station in Scarborough and then to the Hospital."
There are also fears patients in need of urgent medical attention may be put off seeking treatment - including young people.
Jean says: "No-one wants an appointment unless it's necessary. Now, some will avoid going.
"There's young people who can't have babies in Bridlington Hospital, and have to go to Scarborough.
"If those babies get poorly, they have to be kept in Scarborough Hospital overnight and the parents will want to visit."
Despite the outcry, and a campaign led by the Free Press to keep the service, East Riding of Yorkshire Council say it has not been possible to secure enough funding to cover the "substantial estimated annual shortfall in subsidy required".
The service typically carried around 140 passengers per week, mainly return journeys, but the service would need to attract around 350 return passengers a week to cover its costs.
Councillor Andy Burton, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s portfolio holder for planning, highways and transportation, said: “Our trial shuttle bus was used by passengers and people found it very useful, but unfortunately it was only covering just over a third of its overall costs
“We extended the trial to give it another chance, and the other partners made a contribution to costs and helped us advertise the service, but unfortunately the service has come nowhere near to being self-financing”.
The trial shuttle bus was operated by North Holderness Community Transport (HART) six times a day between the Bridlington Hospital and Scarborough Hospital sites, with passengers charged £5 for a return journey.