A grandmother with terminal cancer was forced to cancel a hospital appointment when she was refused patient transport.
Margaret Forbes-Ryan, who lives in sheltered accommodation at Aldwych House, in Commercial Road, South Shields, says she was refused patient transport with North East Ambulance Service to have her monthly cancer review at South Tyneside District Hospital on Monday.
The gran-of-four was diagnosed with cancer six years ago and the disease has since spread around her body.
The 57-year-old, who uses a wheelchair following an accident some years ago, has been attending the hospital for monthly reviews for the past five years, and has never had a problem getting patient transport before.
This time, she said she was refused transport and told to get a taxi to the hospital – but without the money to pay for it, she was forced to cancel her appointment.
After the Gazette stepped in, the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group had her appointment re-instated and arranged transport for her.
She said: “I’m pleased that it’s all sorted, but I shouldn’t have had to go to the Gazette for it.
“It’s disgusting that they’re carrying on like this.
“They told me that if I was getting chemotherapy or radiotherapy that I would qualify and said I had to get a taxi there myself. My daughter, Marie, is the only person who could have taken me but she’s at work and I don’t have the money to pay for a taxi to get there and back.
“I wouldn’t have been able to go so I cancelled my appointment.
“I’ve been going for a review at the cancer unit every month for the last five years and there has never been a problem before, but this time they said I didn’t qualify for an ambulance.”
A spokesman for NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We understand that this is a difficult and upsetting time for Mrs Forbes-Ryan, and in view of this we have taken immediate steps to arrange for transport to her hospital appointment on Monday.
“We will speak with Mrs Forbes-Ryan and the provider of the service over the next few days to ensure that we have a full and clear picture of her transport needs.
“Patient transport services are allocated according to regional guidelines, and patients with any concerns about individual decisions can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 032 0202.”