Couple’s anger over taxi fare for medical treatment

George and Isabel Lyttle. INBL32-LYTTLE
George and Isabel Lyttle. INBL32-LYTTLE

A BANBRIDGE woman living with severe health difficulties who has to pay £50 to travel to out-of-hours hospital each time she requires emergency treatment has called on the facility to be introduced in Banbridge.

Isabel Lyttle said having to travel to Newry or Craigavon by taxi should her ulcerated colitis or migraines flare up adds to the stress and worry already surrounding her condition.

The 58-year-old Maryville Close resident has suffered from the bowel condition for the past 14 years, and requires hospital treatment every three to four months.

The former Ulster Carpet Mills worker and her 59-year-old husband George, who suffers from epilepsy, must call for a taxi each time they require out-of-hours medical care.

“We have to wait for the taxi and then pay about a £50 return fee to get to Craigavon or Daisy Hill,” said Isabel, who also suffers with osteoporosis.

“We don’t have a car and so the taxi has to wait for us. I don’t see why they can’t have some kind of our-of-hours service here in Banbridge. They have the polyclinic which surely could be opened later into the evening. They can find money for everything else so I don’t see why they can’t find money for something that is so important.”

Isabel’s illness means she cannot work, and her husband George is currently unemployed, having previously worked for the Housing Executive as a joiner.

“We are living on very little money as it is,” said Isabel. “If you take £50 out of what we have that doesn’t leave very much.”

Now Upper Bann MP David Simpson has taken up the case and is currently in talks with staff within the Department of Health to see if the Lyttles can at least have their taxi fare reimbursed in what he called a distressing situation for the couple.

“At every turn it is essential that patients are able to obtain out of hours provision that is readily available and easily accessed.”

“My understanding from Mr and Mrs Lyttle is that they have been denied reimbursement for the necessary costs involved in arranging transfer for the essential treatment that Mrs Lyttle requires. “No-one should be treated differently by any agency in different parts of the Province simply as a result of where they live.”

“It is absolutely essential that patients receive prompt care and that nothing is done to increase the stress that they will already be placed under.

“The DUP office in Banbridge is working with Mr and Mrs Lyttle on this and we are making ongoing representation on their behalf.”