CONCERNS have been raised over the ability of the ambulance service to adequately serve rural residents after a cancer patient was forced to rely on neighbours for transport.

Dales Councillor John Blackie has raised the issue with the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCC) and North Yorkshire County Council after hearing the plight of one of his constituents, a Hawes resident who had to call on a neighbour for transport to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and was later told to make his own way home.

The patient, who is receiving specialist chemotherapy treatment, requires an ambulance that can accommodate a stretcher but a request for transport from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service was refused due to the service being too busy.

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Luckily a neighbour agreed to take him on the 40-mile journey in an estate car to enable him to partially lie down en route to the hospital.

The neighbour had made other arrangements for the day so was unable to bring him home and the patient and his wife were shocked to be told that an ambulance would not take them home after the three-hour chemotherapy treatment because they had made their own way to the hospital.

Luckily the couple was able to call on another neighbour to pick them up from hospital and bring them back home.

Cllr Blackie called the situation “completely unacceptable” and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) said they have been in direct contact with the patient over the issue.

Cllr Blackie said the incident highlights fears that many rural North Yorkshire residents have over hospital transport, particularly in the light of proposed changes to services that could see them having to travel further afield to Darlington or Middlesbrough hospitals for certain treatments.

Cllr Blackie said: “It is an utter disgrace.

“I don’t want to blame the front-line staff in the ambulance service because they are brilliant people and so caring, but there isn’t enough of them.

“That is the point we are pressing; that we need more emergency ambulance resources now because there all these plans and policies to take immediate health care further away which in turn means ambulances will be travelling further and you are already seeing examples such as this because there aren’t the resources to cope.”

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We are very sorry to hear that the patient is unhappy with their experience and our Patient Relations Team has responded to them directly about their concerns.”

The matter will be discussed at a scrutiny meeting next month.