Pensioner slams hospital chiefs over clinic move

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A blind pensioner is starting a campaign to stop the relocation of Whitby’s eye clinic to Scarborough.

Ben Smith, 82, and other patients who use the service based at Whitby Hospital, received letters this week telling them the service would cease later this month without consultation.

It means patients like Ben will have to make the trip to Scarborough by bus.

He will have to catch a bus from his Fairways Court home into town, get another bus to Scarborough, then a third bus to the hospital.

It will take around two hours each way for what is a 20 minute check up appointment.

The former teacher, who suffers from glaucoma and mascular degeneration, has drafted in local councillors, MP Robert Goodwill, Whitby DAG and the Scarborough Blind and Partially Sighted Society to try and help reverse the decision.

Local GPs who head the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG which manages health care provision in Whitby say they weren’t made aware of the plan either.

It was decided by York NHS Trust who say it will create more appointments.

Mr Smith said: “If I want to keep what sight I have got left I have got to go to Scarborough for the appointments, I have got no choice I will have to get on the bus.

“If you are blind, it is extremely difficult. Imagine trying to catch a bus with your eyes closed. It’s not easy, let alone catching six.”

Prior to the shock decision, clinics were held in Whitby every Thursday for four hours with two doctors seeing 24 patients a week between them.

In a year, taking into account holidays, Ben estimates there would have been over 720 appointments slots in Whitby which have now been lost.

However, the York trust claims the move will create more appointments.

Mr Smith added: “There was no consultation that it was going to happen and I think people will be horrified.

“It is the removal of another service and was a well used clininc.”

Cllr Plant has vowed to work with the CCG to explore alternatives.

He said: “The last thing we need is for services to be closing without telling anybody.

“They are discriminating against the disabled. If they are partially sighted how are they expected to get transport to Scarborough.

“It is absolutely ridiculous and I am fuming.”