AN 81-YEAR-OLD man with one leg had to wait an extra four and a half hours in A&E at Glan Clwyd Hospital, despite having been discharged, because there was no wheelchair-friendly taxi available to take him home.

Jack Jones had been rushed to the hospital at 1am on a Sunday with a suspected stroke.

By 7am, he was desperate to go home to Rhyl.

A number of taxi companies were phoned, but he was unable to find one with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle available or which operated on a Sunday.

He enlisted the help of local town and county councillor Brian Jones and a firm was found – but their vehicle was on a trip to the airport and the wait was more than one hour.

Eventually an ambulance took Mr Jones home to his wife, Joy, at about 11.30am.

He said: “I feel the issue was the day: Sunday. Don’t be ill or disabled on a Sunday – you won’t be able to get home.

“The doctor saw me and then at 7am and then we tried to find a taxi with disabled access to get home. I can’t get into an ordinary car.

“It was terrible having to wait. Frightening! I am diabetic as well. Cllr Brian Jones helped and phoned around for me.

“We must have tried more seven taxis. I was just waiting in A&E, sitting in the corner.

“One of the doctor said to me that if he could get me in his car, he would take me back.”

Mr Jones, who is still suffering with pain in his hand and in his arm following his ordeal on August 19, says it is important that wheelchair-access taxis should be available seven days a week.

Meanwhile, Cllr Jones said: “Mr Jones rang me to ask if I could help him get a car. It is shocking he couldn’t get a taxi – I must have called about three.

“They were all helpful – but one didn’t have a wheelchair access taxi in operation on a Sunday. A particular mention needs to go to Diane’s Cars of Prestatyn. They kindly put one on hold, it was on an airport run.

“When Mr Jones called me, he was distressed. It was about 10am.

“Going forward, I think something could be put in place to ensure companies have vehicles available.

“I think even a simple list of taxis in Glan Clwyd Hospital’s A&E would have helped the situation.

“He (Mr Jones) was very upset. He doesn’t want it happening to someone else.”

Barry Thomas, manager at Diane’s Cars in Prestatyn, whose wheelchair access taxi was on the airport run, sympathised with Mr Jones.“This is awful,” he said.

But he added: “Unfortunately there are less and less wheelchair vehicles on the road these days.

“We have five minibuses; two of those have wheelchair access.

“On a Sunday, we have one wheelchair minibus on from 6am until 1pm, and then the other takes over from 1pm until 1am.

“Unfortunately there are time when we do not have one available; for example if one is on holiday, or on a long distance journey.

“There is more call for wheelchair/mobility scooter access vehicle, and this will be something we will be looking into in the future.”

A taxi company owner from Rhyl, who asked not to be identified, said: “On the day in question, I spoke with the councillor myself regarding a wheelchair vehicle.

“We do have one and he works Monday to Saturday, with Sunday being his own day off.

“It is myself and another driver the work on Sunday, but we just have cars. I gave him all the numbers I knew of taxis that have these vehicles – I wanted to help.

“I am looking to purchase more, but we have to – like anyone – think of the cost.

“There are restrictions to put a taxi on fleet, whatever the vehicle type car or minibus or wheelchair vehicle.

“These include being no more than five years’ old and after 12 years, they have to come off as a taxi as they are too old.

“A vehicle of this type is around £25,000 to £35,000 and as soon as they are 12 years’ old, these custom built taxis are no good to anyone.

“Whilst the restrictions are good to enforce that not anyone can put a cheap vehicle on the road, it’s unfair to penalise disabled or larger families by only allowing a certain age vehicle.

“If they reduced the restrictions slightly, by up to say eight years new to fleet, and allowed up to 15 years on as a taxi if it passes compliance test then there would be many more vehicles.

“I understand why Denbighshire do put restrictions on vehicles and they aren’t that expensive to buy up to five years’ old, but the custom-built wheelchair vehicles are so expensive.

“I can only see for the future they will get less and less because people can’t afford to spend that kind of money.

“I personally will not put myself into debt in the climate we are in.”