THE Belfast or Blind bus is back!
Bus number 65 travelled north last Thursday and returned on May Day, with 21 people on board who had received treatment for cataracts at Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast.
Independent TD Michael Collins – who together with Kerry Ind TD Danny Healy Rae started the service in 2017 – said he was delighted to be able to resume the service after a four-month delay due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
As a result of the lockdown, Deputy Collins said he now has a large waiting list with approximately 100 people in urgent need of appointments for the sight-saving surgery.
A further hurdle to the scheme came about when the UK left the EU. It meant that the EU Cross Border Directive – which allowed people to receive treatment in Belfast and claim the cost back from the HSE – ended. However, a temporary agreement was put in place.
‘That agreement is due to end at the end of 2021,’ said Deputy Collins, ‘so we urgently need a long-term solution.’
He said there is a huge backlog of people looking to avail of the cross-border scheme and now is the time to prepare to meet that demand ‘and not wait until we are in another crisis situation