Disgust as Bexhill mum left waiting for hours by patient transport

Maria Stevens is angry with Coperforma after she was left at the hospital for hours because her patient transport did not turn up
Maria Stevens is angry with Coperforma after she was left at the hospital for hours because her patient transport did not turn up

A disabled woman from Bexhill is ‘annoyed’ with the patient transport service after she was left for hours at hospital waiting to be picked up yesterday (Monday, July 18).

Maria Stevens did not get back to her home on Bowrey Place until 10.30pm after her appointment at 1.30pm in Brighton because Coperforma did not collect her.

The ordeal did not start well as the transport was an hour late to take the 52-year-old with rheumatoid arthritis to Royal Sussex County Hospital.

“I feel really annoyed after being left in Brighton, a town I don’t know and because I’m frightened of the dark I was nervous and shaking,” she said.

“I woke up this morning and I couldn’t move because of sitting in that wheelchair the whole time.”

Maria’s illness means she cannot stand or walk so she has to book special transport for her hospital appointments.

She booked the transport in advance, specifically asking for a return trip, with Coperforma and was told it was sorted.

But the non-emergency ambulance turned up an hour late, and Maria ended up being two hours late for the breast scan.

Maria was told the transport would collect her afterwards at 4pm, but the hours ticked by until it got to 9pm and the hospital helped organise a patient transport car to take her home.

Maria’s daughter Georgina Stevens said this is not the first time her mother has been let down by Coperforma and was ‘disgusted’ by the service.

“My friend had to take me out just to take my mind off not knowing where my mum was,” Georgina said, who suffers from depression and lives with Maria.

“My mum rang me quite upset saying, ‘I don’t know where I am,’ and, ‘can you get someone to help me?’”

Her evening care had to be cancelled at the last minute and Georgina was angry because the tax payer still has to pay for the carer if it is cancelled the same day.

Georgina thanked the two women from the hospital who stayed with her mum while she waited – one even went home and came back just to keep her company.

This is not the first time Maria has been let down as she missed an appointment a couple of weeks ago because Coperforma did not turn up, and was three hours late to a consultation at King’s College Hospital in London.

Maria said she was almost struck off the rheumatology clinic at Bexhill Hospital because it thought she was not turning up to appointments but it was because the transport never showed up.

Georgina said her mum had a much better experience when South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) organised it before Coperforma took over in April.

“When they [SECAmb] used to do it, all the ambulance people were always early to pick her up and to bring her home,” she said.

“Mum knew the old ambulance drivers and they knew her, they always spoke to her and were friendly.

“But these one are always late.”

Coperforma has previously apologised to all those affected by the service, with chief executive officer Michael Clayton saying it has been ‘unacceptable’.

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