59 bus to town hospital under threat again

Joan Woolard.
Joan Woolard.
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A new threat to the 59 bus service that visits Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital has been uncovered after a timetable mix-up.

Holbeach’s plucky pensioner Joan Woolard was ready to take on Brylaine Travel when she thought she had been left high and dry at Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital and the service had been axed.

Joan (75) – who last year hit the headlines after accusing bankers at Barclays of being “a bunch of crooks” over sky-high pay packets and was nominated for the Oldie of the Year Awards – said she had been visiting at the hospital and planned to catch the 59 service 3.30pm bus back to Spalding to get the connection home to Fleet.

But she said she was horrified when the bus that was saved by Brylaine last year after plans by Kimes to axe it “failed to turn up”.

She said: “Most inpatients and outpatients are elderly and do not drive; nor do their spouses.

“Elderly inpatients can be left for days, if not weeks, without regular visits from loved ones if their visitors cannot visit them. When things like this happen it makes you feel as if we should all drop off our perch when you hit 65.”

On this occasion, a spokesman for Brylaine Travel said there could have been a confusion with the bus timetable.

However, the incident has uncovered new concerns about the 59 service that visits the hospital.

Malcolm Wheatley, from Brylaine, said: “Passenger take-up is almost zero, which means there is an argument to withdraw the service if this doesn’t improve.”

Buses do pass the hospital every hour and will stop, he pointed out.

Kim Barr, matron for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust at Johnson Community Hospital, said: “We are aware concerns have been raised in relation to bus services calling at Johnson Community Hospital and in the past we have written to the local authorities and bus companies to raise this matter on behalf of our patients and visitors. Although the provision of bus services remains outside of our control, we extended visiting times for Welland Ward to between 11.30am and 8pm to ensure they are as accessible for friends and family as possible.”