A TRANSPORT scheme to help elderly and disabled people in Newhaven and Peacehaven access medical care has been axed by the area’s Clinical Commissioning Group.

The NHS Community Transport For The Havens scheme, which provided accessible transport to people with medical appointments, will cease to operate as of September 28.

Run successfully since 2015, the service has been axed as the High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has struggled with rising demands and limited funding.

In a letter sent to service users from Keith Hoare, Community Services Manager for the CCG, he said:? “The reason for this decision is because the NHS, both locally and nationally, is currently facing a significant challenge to try to meet a rising demand on services within restricted finances and resources.

“This has meant that the local NHS can no longer afford all the services that it currently pays for.”

He added: “This decision does not reflect the quality of the service and it is not one we take lightly.”?

Within three-and-a-half years of operation the pilot scheme had gained 1,500 registered users, delivering nearly 7,000 passenger journeys per annum.

Mark Evans, a spokesman for Community Transport in the Lewes Area (CTLA), who provided the service, said: “It’s obviously a shame. The scheme was a real help to people, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable and would have struggled to make it to their appointments.”

Regarding the options available to the service’s users, he said: “We will do our utmost to try to find alternatives for as many of our users as possible through the other services that we run, but obviously because we are no longer receiving the funding there will be a reduction in the frequency and capacity of the services we can provide.

He added that due to CTLA’s own limited resources, users would have to pay for any alternative services provided, unlike the Transport For The Havens scheme which was free to use.

Asked about the CCG’s decision, he said: “We completely understand the position the CCG is in regarding funding, and I’d like to go on record in thanking them and recognising the pioneering stance they took initially in setting the scheme up.

“But this is not the end of the story for the scheme, as we are actively seeking funding to restore the service once the NHS funding stops.”

Any individuals or groups interested in donating to the CTLA should get in touch via 01273 517 332, or send an email to info@ctla.org.uk.