WYCOMBE Hospital's patient and visitor transport provision has been put under the magnifying glass by a concerned charity worker.

Mary Mitchell, secretary to the High Wycombe Central Aid Society, tested out the free shuttle service currently consisting of taxis between Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals to see if people were getting a fair deal.

Mrs Mitchell said: "I was picked up at Wycombe Hospital and transported in a very nice silver Mercedes. I realise that the service, when it gets going, will be ordinary taxis. As we were lucky with traffic the trip took approximately 30 minutes, but it could take longer."

Mrs Mitchell met with Malcolm Newton, the director of operations at Stoke Mandeville, when she arrived. He gave her a tour of the facilities and explained the new procedures.

Mrs Mitchell is concerned about the overall cost of the scheme.

She also thinks vulnerable people, like the elderly and disabled, could be discouraged from visiting because of the journey and worries pregnant women in acute emergencies are in greater danger.

Mrs Mitchell said: "If all those who need the service use it regularly it could equate to serious money which could have been put into keeping and developing the service where it was.

"Will those who need the service be made aware of it, or will it be withdrawn through lack of use'?"

Mrs Mitchell is convinced the staff are doing their best but thinks central Government policy is "playing chess" with people.

She said: "We must make sure that the staff, customers and pat-ients, who pay for the NHS through their taxes are not the last to be considered."