Berwickshire Wheels’ new taxi to health care service

Berwickshire Wheels have vehicles based in Coldstream, Duns and Eyemouth.
Berwickshire Wheels have vehicles based in Coldstream, Duns and Eyemouth.

A NEW ‘taxi to health care’ scheme is being trialled in Berwickshire - the result of co-operation between Berwickshire Wheels and Scottish Borders Council.

The aim of the new taxi scheme is to make it easier for people who, for a variety of reasons, have difficutly in getting to their local health centre, community hospital or day centre. It is being funded through the Scottish Government’s Reshaping Care Change fund which this year has £80 million in its coffers for NHS boards and local authority projects.

The scheme provides free door-to-door transport for patients or takes them from their home and drops them off to make a connection with a direct bus to Borders General Hospital, to fit in with their appointment time.

Everyone using the ‘taxi to health’ scheme is entitled to a maximum of four free return journeys to health care services per month.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, SBC’s executive member for roads and infrastructure said: “This is an excellent example of collaborative working between NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council and the voluntary sector to provide an improved transport service to health service appointments, and I hope that it is well supported by Berwickshire residents.”

The project will run until late July 2013 and is being trialled as an alternative mode of transport in rural areas. It is hoped that if successful, the scheme will continue to be provided on a full time basis through Berwickshire Wheels and funded by Scottish Borders Council.

Berwickshire Wheels has six vehicles, two cars, two small mini buses and two nine seater mini buses based in Eyemouth, Duns and Coldstream and Allister Hart, who co-ordinates the service, explained: “We are already engaged with transporting individuals and groups around Berwickshire to all sorts of appointments, social events etc. For instance we deliver people to the WRVS day centres at Eyemouth on Tuesdays and Thursdays, collecting people from Burnmouth, Chirnside etc. We take people to Chest Heart and Stroke Groups and also take Mrs Smith to do her weekly shopping.

“Eyemouth Health Centre anticipate that a number of clients will now come into the health centre for appointments rather than receiving visits at home.”

But all this will only work if there are sufficient volunteer drivers to help transport people and Allister is keen to encourage anyone interested in offering an hour or two to help out to get in touch with him on 01361 884652.