Catch 22 hurdle to clear for ill islanders

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An island couple have told of being denied a new car through the Government’s mobility allowance scheme and Motobility Operations.

Gary Donnelly and his wife Carol, who is about to undergo regular dialysis treatment, were told that they would only be able to get a new car if Carol travelled to Inverness to sign for a car at a dealership.

Gary told the Gazette of his difficulty trying to find a dealership that would consider their circumstances, contacting 12 dealerships in Inverness.

He said: “We came up against a brick wall of ‘job worths’ and no sympathy or understanding was forthcoming.”

Gary said that Carol was upset and worried that if she lives for two more years she will be left without transport.

Gary said: “As we pointed out time and again my wife is too ill to travel three hours on the ferry, then 55 miles to Inverness.

“Carol will have to go to dialysis for 15 hours a week, three times a week, so we need a car.

“We’ve been with Motobility Operations since 2002, we’ve had three or four cars from them and there hasn’t been any problem. Last time, although my wife was ill, she went across to sign in Ullapool.”

Gary said that new changes to Motobility policies meant that Carol would have to travel to Inverness to sign for the car in person on a computer, a journey she is not well enough to make.

He highlighted that this policy was a ‘discrimination’ of sorts as regards to ill islanders.

Gary said: “It reminds me of the novel Catch 22. My wife is ill, so gets Motability but cannot have a car because she is too ‘ill’ to travel. This has been very frustrating which my wife in her condition can well do without.”

Following an enquiry Motobility told the Gazette: “If a Motability Scheme customer is unable to visit a dealership to place an order for their next car, a range of options may be available to ensure they remain mobile. Depending on individual circumstances, this can include extending the lease agreement on the current car for a further two years, or in exceptional circumstances, placing an application for a new car over the telephone.

“We have made Mr and Mrs Donnelley aware of the options available to them and will continue to work with them to provide a suitable solution.”

Gary said that he was happy that a solution had been found, and pleased that other islanders in the same situation would not have to face the same ordeal.

Pictured is Carol, who with her husband Gary have been customers of Motobility for over ten years, but found it difficult to organise a new car this time around due to rule changes.