To travel down to the mainland Scotland is a straight forward procedure be it flying or ferry for the island patient traveller. You get your tickets and organise yourself to get from A to B. Many patients from the northern islands like Shetland and Orkney usually go to the ARI hospital in Aberdeen city. The ARI ‘Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’ is one of the biggest hospitals in the NHS Grampian area. It serves a wide geographical area for the north of Scotland.
In terms of flying and arriving at Aberdeen International Airport patient travellers need to catch a shuttle bus to get them to their specific destination. It is the (BRC) ‘British Red Cross’ charity that supply this shuttle service to all NHS patients.
Depending on your fitness upon arrival to the airport you either walk, limp, use crutches or be pushed in a wheelchair or pushchair (child) and, head towards the entrance of the airport.
On the way out from arrivals there is a man or woman in a bright red BRC fleece jacket holding a clipboard. They are waiting specifically for you to approach them. Hopefully their clipboard shall have your details on it. The BRC workers have the job of ticking your name off and giving you clear instructions to find the shuttle bus outside.
It should be simple but, it can potentially go wrong. Looking for lost individuals in a large airport or hospital within a time schedule is no fun from what I have observed. The BRC have a schedule to keep and like air stewardesses or stewards they need you to be on time. Prior travel information is usually given verbally by travel booking staff when you pick up your tickets. There is also paper information with your tickets explaining too.
Your only input is to listen, read and be aware of these arrangements. If you don’t you are in trouble and, it be all your own fault for not paying attention! I know. Why? Because I fluffed it up four years ago on my first trip down.
On my recent trip from Aberdeen airport I got chatting to the BRC driver. I asked him if everything was going smoothly on this trip?
Well guess how many walked past me today? I guessed four tops!? He sighed, no! double that it was eight people walked pass me. I’m wearing a bright Red jacket with a Red cross on it! They still walk pass… No one reads those little pieces of paper they give you He continues: ‘I could be dressed up as Santa Clause in bright red with a flashing light on my head and their still walk pass me, guaranteed!…he repeats…GUARANTEED!’
I understood clearly and then I admitted my shenanigans four years back. I was meant to be somewhere, and I wasn’t. I learnt from my mistake and ever since that day I have MUCH respect for all the work they do. In a busy shift it must be stressful and bewildering trying to get up to thirty people maximum in various capabilities to and from their destinations.
Towards the end of my shuttle lift he asks,
Do you want to hear the funniest story that happened a few years back?
His story was a funny and one he repeats with glee, but no names or exact locations are given. Long story short a patient got mixed up and ended up thinking the airport was the hospital. In fairness they had an eye problem and could see the funny side of it but not something they would admit to others back home. Despite that the person in question got to their appointment in time and got home with humorous embarrassment.
I thanked the BRC driver and hope he had a good day and that no more folk just walk pass him when he is only doing his job!
My acknowledgments and thanks to BRC Press for the logo and weblinks and the BRC drivers of Aberdeen City and their fab work with NHS island patient travellers.