Our lifeline transport service, which helps patients from Dumfries and Galloway get to hospital for cancer treatments, is back on the road after one of the vehicles was smashed into by a hit and run driver at the start of the year.
The service has been running in Dumfries since 2005, with a service running in the Stranraer area for around 14 years before that. The team of volunteers in Dumfries help patients from the town and surrounding area get to Glasgow’s Beatson unit, and the Western General in Edinburgh, for regular appointments for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
However, the team suffered a setback in January when one of the vehicles was smashed into by a getaway car.
Two men fleeing a robbery collided with the Patient Transport vehicle on the Abington slip road, and when another driver who witnessed the incident stopped to assist, she was assaulted, and the men then stole her car and took off. One of the men in the getaway car has since been tried, and received a 16 month sentence.
Stuart McVittie, who has been a volunteer driver with St John Scotland for ten years, was behind the wheel of the Patient Transport vehicle at the time. He said: “It was one of those freak incidents – the car just came out of nowhere and smashed into us. We run this service five days a week up and down to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and this is the first time something like this has happened, so it was quite a shock. It was very difficult for the two passengers, who very sadly were injured and had to spend time recovering in hospital. But I’m pleased to say they’re now getting back to their health – I’ve even been invited to one of the patient’s upcoming birthday party!”
In the months following the crash, the team had to use hire cars while they went through the insurance process and waited for delivery of a replacement vehicle.
The patients who rely on the service – without which they would have to use public transport, or call on lifts from family to get to their regular treatments – are delighted to be able to get to their appointments in comfort once more.
The service is run entirely by volunteers, with the drivers and organisers all offering their time for free to provide this much needed, lifesaving service.
We run similar Patient Transport services in three other parts of Scotland - teams in Tayside and Perth and Kinross take patients to cancer and dialysis treatments, while a service for dialysis patients launched last year in Fife.
We are always keen to recruit new volunteer drivers – if you are interested in applying please send us your details on our Sign Up from.