A NEW shuttle bus service has proven its worth after making a difference to the lives of 12 Barnsley cancer patients since its launch last month.
The service was launched at the beginning of December by Weston Park Cancer Charity to transport patients from Barnsley to and from their potentially lifesaving appointments at the Sheffield hospital every weekday.
According to Matt Hadley, transport co-ordinator at the centre, the service has seen a swift uptake with twelve patients booking for lifts - along with seven more volunteer drivers coming forward and bringing the total up to ten.
Matt, who led the set-up of the new free service between Oakwell Stadium’s car park and the hospital, said: “We have had an incredibly positive response to the launch of our Barnsley transport service.
“Since our first journey on December 8, we have operated between Oakwell stadium and Weston Park Cancer Centre every weekday helping a total of twelve Barnsley patients attend their appointments.
“As a charity we are extremely fortunate to have the support of ten volunteers from the Barnsley area who have agreed to drive the minibus on its twice daily return journey to Sheffield.
“Everyone who has used the service has told us of their travel worries and concerns after finding out they would need to attend Weston Park.
“I hope that the service we offer has taken away that worry, allowing patients to focus on their treatment and wellbeing.”
With no direct link via public transport, the hospital is about 15 miles from Barnsley and for cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapy, this means they must often make the commute daily for weeks at a time.
According to hospital bosses, rising taxi fares and public transport costs - financial barriers which are no longer in place thanks to the new service - had even driven some patients to refuse treatment.
Between January and October of last year, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals carried out 10,422 oncology consultations for 2,268 patients from Barnsley, and 20 per cent of all Weston Park patients are from the Barnsley area.
Mark Younger, of Ibberson Avenue in Mapplewell, received a heartbreaking terminal brain tumour diagnosis at the end of last year and was told he has 12 to 18 months to live.
The 53-year-old has been attending appointments for a six-week course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy over the past few weeks at Weston Park, and says he is grateful for the new service after being forced to rely on friends and family for daily lifts up until its launch.
“It’s so helpful for me because I’m there everyday at the moment,” he said.
“This round of my chemotherapy and radiotherapy is six weeks long, and I’m an outpatient so I have to travel all the way there and back every single day - It’s a long way really.
“Unfortunately my treatment is only to prolong my life, rather than cure me. But I’m grateful to receive it and to be here for as long as I can.
“I can’t drive because of my illness, so now I don’t have to rely on people for a lift it’s much better.”