Man in his eighties left with no transport to hospital appointments due to lack of volunteers

By Sam Acourt in Health

A man in his eighties was given no warning that his transport service to Torbay Hospital was unavailable as volunteer drivers could not be found.

Robert Jeffery contacted us after his father Albert, who lives in Frogmore, was told that the hospital car service that he used the week before, was no longer servicing the Kingsbridge area into Torbay Hospital.

Robert said his dad was very “stressed” by the experience as he was left asking family members for lifts to appointments. Robert was left “frantically ringing around to see what other options there were” for his father, who he describes as “frail”.

Robert said: “It was just the way it was dealt with, no warning to people using that existing service”. Luckily, Albert now has transport through the RVS, Royal Voluntary Service, a charity supporting older people and their families across the UK.

After contacting Torbay Hospital, it transpired that the reason for the service not running is due to the lack of volunteer drivers.

Melanie Stewart, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mr Jeffery has been receiving a car service provided by South Devon Hospital Car Service, a service this trust provides with support from volunteer drivers.

“We are wholly reliant on having enough volunteer drivers in order to provide this service. At the moment, we do not have enough volunteer drivers to provide transport for all patients who are requesting it, and we are therefore asking all patients who live outside of Torbay, and this would include Mr Jeffery who lives near to Kingsbridge, to find an alternative means by seeing if there is a community car service available in their area, or asking relatives or friends.

“In the meantime, we are working with our voluntary partners to try to recruit more drivers, when we hope to reintroduce the service to people living outside of Torbay.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may be causing and we welcome any support other community car services could provide until we have bolstered our volunteer driver numbers.

“People interested in becoming volunteer drivers are asked to contact our Control Team Leader on 01803 656796. Further details are also available on our website www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk - click on ‘Our services’ and scroll down to Patient Transport Services.”

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