Medical appointment and can’t book on the ferry? Read on…

Early last year CalMac introduced a government-funded system aimed at helping islanders get to medical appointments when there is no space for their car on the ferry. The ‘Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol‘ is unknown by many people, and has been changed a little recently. We have also been contacted by several people in the past week who could not get to hospital appointments, due to the Loch Frisa being full to capacity on most daytime sailings whilst she operates on her own. So this seems like a good time to remind islanders all about the protocol.

If you have recently received a medical appointment on the mainland to which you wish to travel to by car, but are unable to book your car on the ferry, CalMac will help to make sure you can still make the appointment.

To qualify you must:

  • Be an island resident
  • Have an appointment at an NHS hospital on the mainland
  • Intend to travel to the appointment in your own car
  • Have received notice of that medical appointment seven or fewer days before the appointment date
  • Be unable to book your car on the sailings of your choice to get to and from the appointment

What CalMac will do for you:

  • First of all they will explore all options for getting your car on the ferry, which may include liaising with local port offices.
  • If that fails, they will pay for a taxi to and from the appointment for the mainland portion of the journey.

How the service works:

  • Try to book on your desired sailings. If no spaces are available, then:
  • Ring the CalMac contact centre on 0800 066 5000
  • Make it clear that you wish to access the Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol
  • CalMac will first attempt to get your car on the sailings you need.
  • If that fails, they will offer to pay for a taxi for the mainland portion of your trip, in both directions.
  • You will need to initially book and pay for the taxi yourself.
  • After your journey, follow CalMac instructions to send your taxi receipt to receive reimbursement.

Key points:

  • The protocol is only for the use of people with out-patient, clinic or short-stay NHS appointments.
  • It is not for appointments at private hospitals
  • It is not for hospital discharge or visiting someone in hospital
  • You must have contacted CalMac to access the service. Taxi receipts will only be reimbursed if you have previously contacted CalMac and your name has been added to a list of passengers authorised to use the service.

For full details of the scheme, see the CalMac webpage here.

6 thoughts on “Medical appointment and can’t book on the ferry? Read on…

  1. We appreciate your efforts to help patients get to appointments. We have had very uncomfortable journeys returning from treatment having to go long route via Lochaline because couldn’t get booked on ferry and very stressful /painfull times waiting in unbooked queues in Oban. Release times are usually unknown and its impossible to guess which ferry to try and book. Thanks

  2. With current reduced ferry capacity, SEVEN days (or less) notice of appointment may not be enough. Also ‘sailings of your choice’ is moot, How long before (or after) your appointment might you be expected to wait idly in Oban? What happens if the appointment is in Glagow?

    1. Hi Tim. Have written to Transport Scotland on this and one other reasonable adjustment suggestion.

  3. I am completely dumbfounded at Calmacs response and distinct lack of the ability to grasp what is being put to them. It’s about as useful as a chocolate fireguard!!! Nowhere in there do I see anything that gets that car on a ferry. Instead trying to look magnanimous by offering to pay for a taxi ( and this in itself would be understandably necessary but wholly complicated jumping through hoops to avoid abuse of a system) on the MAINLAND to and from the ferry. If it weren’t so serious it would be laughable. My continued thanks go to you all for your unstinting efforts.

  4. Whilst I appreciate the effort and understand that they are providing some form of help it still falls short for islanders. Seven days or less for an appointment is too short. In the summer you can fail to book a place a month in advance. Also, why are private health appointments not included. A medical appointment is still a medical appointment regardless of whether the treatment itself is paid for privately or not and frankly what has that got to do with Calmac? This protocol needs work.

    1. Hi Caroline. We have written to Transport Scotland asking that private appointments are added to the list, as well as hospital discharges (as discussed above). We have also asked for the notice period to be extended to three weeks rather than one.

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