Pensioner says expenses could save hospital beds in Oban
AN 87-YEAR- OLD woman from Mull has spoken of her anger at the amount of money that was spent on travel expenses while her late husband was ill, writes David McPhee.
On several occasions Alison Bartholomew and her husband had to travel 30 miles to the ferry terminal on Mull before making the onward trip to either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
She said: ‘I think it probably goes into four figures. It’s utterly shocking to think this money could be saving [hospital] beds in Oban.’
Mrs Bartholomew’s husband John was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve, but she said it took nearly two months for him to see anyone in the cardiac department after he had all the appropriate x-rays.
When they thought they were going to receive a date to operate, they received a letter saying he required three additional appointments, each of which turned out to be a month apart, in three different Glasgow hospitals.
Mrs Bartholomew said: ‘The final insult was the surgery would finally be carried out in an Edinburgh hospital. It’s staggering and what annoys me is I’m just one person and I live on Mull. What about people who live on Barra or Coll or Tiree? Their expenses are even higher and in their case they often have to be flown out.
‘Unfortunately my husband died four days before the planned operation, which he only got because he went to the top and said this is absurd.
‘Our son had a similar operation and they operated within 24 hours, so I’m not only unimpressed, I’m also very distressed at having lost my husband.’
However, Mrs Bartholomew is not critical of NHS staff. Her criticisms lie with how the funds are being distributed.
She said: ‘I had a stoke in the middle of a Sunday night in February and I was brought over in the lifeboat and they [the staff] saved my life. They were kindness itself to both my husband and myself.
‘I could see how stressed they were and overworked, but they never complained; they were always cheery and were always kind and above all they were always extremely efficient.
‘The matter is so serious now with the mismanagement of NHS funds that I thought I really had to report it when it comes to closing yet more of our beds in Lorn and the Islands [hospital].’
Oban South and the Isles councillor Roddy McCuish said: ‘As a recently appointed member of the Mull locality group, this was one of the main reasons I asked to go on to the group – to make sure that one size doesn’t fit all. We have to make sure that the rural area and our islands receive firstclass medical care as I would expect with all patients.
‘The locality planning groups are invaluable to find local solutions to local problems.’
A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: ‘ We are sorry to hear of her concerns and would encourage her to get in touch with us directly so we can look into these and investigate formally.
‘ Wherever it is safe and sustainable to do so, NHS Highland endeavours to provide appropriate services as close to communities as possible - within rural general hospitals, community hospitals and primary care services.
‘Specialist services will be provided from the larger teaching hospitals and in these circumstances, travel assistance is provided.’