A DISABLED former steward with skin cancer has been told he no longer qualifies for free non-emergency transport to the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Steven Lucas, aged 31, is given free transport to The Christie in Manchester for cancer treatment — but bus company Arriva, which provides the non-emergency service, has told him he does not qualify for lifts to Bolton or Leigh for treatment for his other conditions.
Healthwatch Bolton also says it is concerned about the regional service provided by Arriva Transport Solutions following an increase in complaints from patients.
The private bus and train operator has missed key performance targets every month since taking over the contract from North West Ambulance Service last April — including getting patients to hospital appointments on time and picking them up afterwards.
Mr Lucas, of Boston Street, Halliwell, previously used the free transport service to take him to the Royal Bolton Hospital for treatment to his trapped nerve and to Leigh Infirmary for sleep apnoea.
He said: “I have been registered disabled for three years now and I am disgusted with these changes. When I travel to Leigh, I now have to catch three buses, which is very painful. Arriva said they could take me to the Christie because that was for cancer but not for the others. But I don’t have a car and can only walk a little way.
“This is not just about myself, this is about other patients in Bolton too.”
Arriva refused to comment on Mr Lucas’ individual case but said it was committed to improving patient standards.
Asiya Jelani, head of communications and engagement at Arriva Transport Solutions, said: “When a patient raises a complaint with us, we undertake a full investigation and where we can identify areas of improvement we endeavour to make those improvements and this is shared with the patient and their representatives.
“Overall we have seen an improvement in the number of patients transported within the required standards across a number of areas.”