Travel turmoil: Burnley mum stranded at Blackburn Hospital with wheelchair-bound daughter

The three-year-old Elsie in her spica cast.
The three-year-old Elsie in her spica cast.
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A woman was left stranded at Royal Blackburn Hospital with her wheelchair-bound three-year-old following a confusion around disabled access on the shuttle bus.

Lei-Anne McRobb (22) and her daughter, Elsie - who is in a spica cast and a wheelchair after a hip operation - travelled to Blackburn from Burnley General Hospital on the shuttle bus provided by the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust on Monday, September 11th.

Lei-Anne McRobb (22), Elsie's mother.

Lei-Anne McRobb (22), Elsie's mother.

Attempting to return to Burnley, Lei-Anne claims she was told she could not board because her daughter’s wheelchair was too big, leaving her and her three-year-old without the means to get home.

“[The driver] said she had to get off unless she sat Elsie on her knee; she’s in a full plaster cast around her waist, and that’s not ideal,” said Donna McRobb, Lei-Anne’s mother. “Lei-Anne told him this, she showed him the condition [Elsie] was in, but he wasn’t bothered.”

Howard Tyrer, General Manager at Holmeswood Coaches Ltd, who operate the shuttle bus, explained that the bus Lei-Anne had attempted to board was not equipped with disabled access, saying: “At 16.15, when the incident happened, there’s no wheelchair access on that vehicle.

“We’ve done a full investigation and interviewed all the drivers concerned,” Howard added. “This is an isolated incident. The driver realised the child was confined to the wheelchair, so he said there was another vehicle at 16.30 which was wheelchair accessible.”

Having called Royal Blackburn regarding the issue, Donna told Lei-Anne that the hospital had instead booked a taxi for her, only for another passenger to take the taxi themselves, meaning that Lei-Anne had missed the 16.30 and 16.45 buses. When she eventually tried to board a later service, she was told she could not do so.

“Elsie was upset - it was cold, it was wet, she was hungry - she wanted to come home,” Donna said. "She had no other way of getting home, so two guys on the bus had to help get her pram down. “[Elsie’s] uncomfortable at the best of times, let alone being sat on someone’s knee all the way.

“It was upsetting for Lei-Anne too,” she added. “I’m not after an apology, it’s a health and safety issue: if that bus had crashed, she should’ve been strapped into the pram.”

In reply, Howard said: “Over the last 10 years, we’ve carried over 1.5 million passengers on that route. The complaint rate is minimal; we run a fabulous service 365 days a year.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but we believe at that time of day, there’s enough vehicles to move everybody,” he said.