Brodick mum at her wits’ end with ferry disruption

The MacLean family; dad Iain, mum Gillian, Max, in the pram, and Grayson and Noah pictured outside their Brodick home.

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By Colin Smeeton

A young mum from Brodick is at her wits’ end with ferry disruption and NHS cancellations which have delayed her young son’s hospital appointment eight times.

Gillian and Iain MacLean, and their three children, nine-month old Max, Grayson aged two and five-year-old Noah, have endured months of delay to see a specialist at Crosshouse Hospital owing to five cancelled ferries and three appointments cancelled by the hospital itself.

According to Gillian, her youngest son Max was due to see a specialist at seven weeks old but after the numerous cancellations and rescheduling, he will be 11 months old by the time he is able to attend his appointment.

Gillian describes the continued postponements as frustrating and said that, despite making various efforts, such as trying to catch the ferry the day before an appointment, the unlucky series of events has resulted in the missed appointments.

She also says that this has caused frustration for hospital staff who she feels have lost their patience with her on a few occasions believing that she has not made enough effort to attend her appointments.

Gillian said: ‘Local practitioners and medical staff completely understand island circumstances and have been brilliant with scheduling appointments and changing circumstances but this has not been the case with mainland appointments.

‘I understand that the NHS is struggling but in instances of missed appointments, and particularly repeated missed appointments, I feel like some NHS staff have lost their compassion and understanding for patients who have to rely on the ferry service from Arran.

‘The uncertainty about whether a ferry is going to sail or not has meant that I have packed bags and made arrangements for the whole family to visit the mainland, only to be told at the last minute that the appointment or ferry has been cancelled.

‘The unreliability of the ferry and the rigid appointment schedule of mainland hospitals do not work well together and this has caused the disruptive and frustrating situation we find ourselves in.’

Gillian has some health concerns herself, and has missed two of her own mainland appointments due to ferry cancellations.

Last November the family were evacuated to Crosshouse Hospital twice in the same month when two of the children had serious medical issues which necessitated helicopter flights to the mainland.

A CalMac spokeswoman said: ‘We will do everything possible to make sure islanders get to medical appointments on the mainland, and I am really sorry to hear that this family has missed these due to ferry disruption.

‘Anyone struggling to get on a sailing should speak to our port staff, who will ensure they get onto another sailing.

‘Our urgent medical appointment protocol means that even if a sailing is full, we will get the patient to where they need to get to using taxis.’

Joanne Edwards, NHS director of acute services, said that due to patient confidentiality they were unable to provide any information but added: ‘NHS Ayrshire and Arran is committed to providing safe and effective healthcare and treatment for our population.

‘We would encourage the patient to make contact with their care team to discuss any concerns,’ she added.