THE hospital car service will run for at least another 12 months, following a review of the scheme that sees volunteers drive patients to and from appointments at St Mary’s Hospital.
In November, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust confirmed the service was under review because of £30,000 associated costs.
It was feared the service would cease to exist, leaving vulnerable, immobile and elderly patients worried about how they would attend hospital appointments.
But, the trust has this week announced it will continue to run the service for at least another 12 months, with new cost-saving ideas being implemented. Gill Kennett, locality stream lead for the My Life A Full Life project, said: "It was very expensive and we were making quite a loss, so we had to review it. But, we are going to make some changes to bring down costs and our board wants to give it another year to see how that goes.
"When we talked to the car drivers, they came forward with ideas."
She said patients would not see a difference in the service they received, but volunteers were now helping to run the administration side of pick-ups and drop-offs.
Michael Parker, of Medina Park, Whippingham, has been volunteering with the service for three years.
He said he had spoken to other drivers and he estimated the service made approximately £22,500 profit for the IW NHS Trust, per year. He has called for the trust to reveal what the costs actually were.
But added: "I am very pleased they have decided to continue with it and hopefully it will carry past the 12 months. It is a vital service to the community."
John Gifford, of Ninham Close, Shanklin, is 84 and has been using the service for four years.
He said: "I am really pleased it has been kept on, but we will be on tenterhooks at the end of the 12 months.
"I think possibly the protests have made them think about how the patients really rely on it."