A CARDIGAN resident has hit out after being unable to access the new £24m Integrated Care Centre in her mobility scooter.

Jane Phillips, from Maes Mwldan, had a clinic appointment at the Bathhouse Road site earlier this month and went on her mobility scooter.

“When I was called, a member of staff stopped me and said I wasn't allowed in the building on my scooter as it was against fire regulations,” said Jane.

“I queried this at reception and they didn't know. I was very upset and in tears as the staff member said in future I would have to be brought by a friend in a wheelchair.

“I left my details at reception and was told the manager would get back to me about this. I am still waiting for a response. Even if they said they were still looking into it, that would be something.”

Having hear nothing, Jane was back at the centre a week later and again went on her scooter. She was again refused entry and was asked to leave her scooter in the foyer

“This meant a staff member took me in a wheelchair to the doctors,” said Jane.

“I was told that electric wheelchairs can come in, but not scooters and I want to know why. They are both used by people with mobility problems and both run on rechargeable batteries. I feel discriminated against.

“I have been to hospitals in Bath, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Llanelli, Theatre Mwldan, the library, Post Office, banks, shops, cafes, dentist, opticians and a number of churches and have never been denied access, so what's the problem?

“I live in Maes Mwldan where independence is encouraged, and there are at least another five scooters as well as 15 electric chairs. If this happens every time I go, it takes away my independence.”

Peter Skitt, county director for Ceredigion at Hywel Dda health board said: "We are sorry to hear of this patient's experience and any inconvenience this has caused.

"Considerations on the use of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs accessing Cardigan Integrated Care Centre (CICC) was fully discussed during the design and planning stages of the development.

"Advice from the Senior Fire Safety Advisor at the time indicated restrictions to access to buildings for certain types of mobility vehicles, including mobility scooters, due to safety issues.

“As a result, a decision was made to allow powered wheelchairs into the building but restrict access to mobility scooters as far as the main entrance.

"Following a review this week, the Management Team in CICC have agreed that this advice remains valid and as a result mobility scooters will not be allowed into the building, but can instead be parked under the entrance canopy to the left of the main entrance.

"The mobility scooter user can, if required, request assistance from the reception staff and wheelchairs can be found in the ground floor foyer to aid access to the remaining parts of the building.

"The reasons behind this decision are as follows:

• Certain mobility scooters are often referred to as road class scooters (Class 3)

• They are larger and more spacious than powered wheelchairs (Class 2)

• These scooters have a top speed of 8mph and can be driven on the roads

• They are deemed roadworthy because they have lights at the front and rear and fitted with wing mirrors.

"Permitting scooter movement within the building could compromise the means of escape. The Health Board has a duty to ensure that all circulation routes are maintained and clear of obstructions at all times.

“Therefore it would be contrary to the principles of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order to have corridors partially obstructed by mobility scooters, which may be considerably bulky or heavy, potentially impeding the escape of other occupants.

"The health board is happy to revisit the current advice in the event of new guidance being issued.

"Our patient support team is available on 0300 0200 159 should the patient wish to discuss their concerns with us."