Forth Road Bridge closure sparks long commute for cancer patient

Megan Fletcher. Picture: Cascade
Megan Fletcher. Picture: Cascade
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A TEENAGE cancer patient faces a series of crowded train journeys for her chemotherapy – because of the Forth Road Bridge closure.

Megan Fletcher, 14, diagnosed earlier this year with Hodgkin lymphoma, needs to travel three times a week from her home in Dundee to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh.

She can’t afford to be stuck in traffic, and miss her early appointments, so she and mum Shona face gruelling bus and train journeys every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

They usually drive through, but the bridge has been closed so urgent repairs can be carried out and it is not due to open until early next year.

NHS Lothian said children are being offered the option of having regular treatments in Tayside, rather than travelling all the way to Edinburgh.

Shona said: “Megan is due to have chemotherapy next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The hospital flat we sometimes stay in is not available, which means we are going to have to travel both ways each day, despite Megan having chemo each day.”

She said their days would have to begin before 7am to get to Dundee Station in time to catch the 7.20am train.

Shona added: “When we get to Edinburgh we will have to walk along Princes Street to catch a bus to take us to the hospital in time for Megan’s treatment.

“Then we will have to do the whole journey in reverse at the end of every day.

“I’m really concerned for lots of reasons.

“Megan’s chemo has been making her pretty sick this time round and I really don’t think she’s going to feel well enough at the end of each day to have to travel on the train.

“Then there’s a real possibility of Megan catching an infection while

travelling on public transport, which she really can’t afford to do.

“And if the trains are really busy, and Megan can’t get a seat, there’s no way she is well enough to stand for the entire journey, certainly not there and back for three days.

“The early starts will get harder as the week goes on and Megan becomes more and more tired.

“I’m also worried about her being out in the cold and the wet and the wind every day.”

Shona said she couldn’t really see an obvious solution to the problem, adding: “We have to be at the

hospital first thing in the morning for Megan’s treatment so to drive any other way just wouldn’t be practical.

“I have heard the traffic queues on the other routes are

horrendous and it’s just not viable for Megan to miss an appointment at the hospital.

“We will just have to book seats on the train in advance and hope Megan copes with the constant travelling.

“I can’t see any other alternative. I just hope that people on the train are kind to us and Megan gets a seat, especially on the journey home.”

Fiona Mitchell, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services, NHS Lothian, said: “As a result of the bridge closure, we understand that our patients may be experiencing difficulties travelling to hospital appointments for all types of medical conditions, particularly those undergoing regular chemotherapy.

“For children this can be especially difficult and we have offered them the option of having regular treatments in Tayside to prevent them making the journey to Edinburgh.

“If any parent has concerns, they should speak with the clinical team at Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh to see if any other alternatives can be found.”

A special NHS advice line has been set up on 0800 028 2816.