Fear over care impact of Bute ferry disruption

Wemyss Bay ferry terminal will be closed for four months from February 2015 to allow major repairs to be carried out on the pier. CalMac's winter relief ferry MV Coruisk is pictured at the pier in November 2013.
Wemyss Bay ferry terminal will be closed for four months from February 2015 to allow major repairs to be carried out on the pier. CalMac's winter relief ferry MV Coruisk is pictured at the pier in November 2013.

Fears have been expressed over the impact of next year’s disruption on the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay ferry service - particularly on people attending hospital appointments or visiting family in care homes on the mainland.

Concerns on the subject were aired at Bute Community Council’s October meeting - with particular reference to the Merino Court care home in Greenock, where a growing number of island residents have been placed in recent years due to the lack of capacity on Bute.

The home, which offers specialist dementia, nursing and residential care, is easily reached by train from Wemyss Bay, being a short walk from Drumfrochar station, but access is much more difficult by bus from Gourock, which will be used by the Rothesay ferry for four months from February 2015 while major repairs are carried out at Wemyss Bay pier.

“How are you going to get there when the ferry is going to Gourock?” community councillor Mike Blair asked. “It’s going to be very expensive and a nightmare to get to.”

A member of the public at the meeting also pointed out that the NHS would need to be mindful of the Bute travel disruption when arranging mainland appointments for island residents.

BCC chair Grace Strong added: “We have been told that patients will be put to the back of the queue if they don’t phone to cancel appointments when they find out they won’t be able to reach the hospital if the ferries are off.”