Jackie Williams’ daughter Scarlett is on the autism spectrum and suffers from bladder problems (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Travel bosses demanded a five-year-old schoolgirl attend a disability assessment so her mum could get a free bus pass to help with hospital appointments.
That’s despite the travel firm being sent letters about little Scarlett Williams, who is autistic, from her school, her GP and the hospital she attends.
Mum-of-three Jackie Williams gets four buses when she takes her daughter, who also suffers from bladder problems, to her regular appointments at Alder Hey Hospital, Merseyside.
The 36-year-old applied for a free travel pass after hospital staff told her that she would qualify, reports the Liverpool Echo.
But she was shocked when, five months after applying, she received a letter addressed to her five-year-old telling her to attended a 45 minute assessment at the Liverpool bus station, during school hours.
After initially believing the letter was sent in error she called Merseytravel who confirmed they did in fact want her daughter to attend the appointment.
The mum-of-three gets four buses when she takes her daughter to her regular appointments at Alder Hey Hospital (Image: Daily Mirror)
Ms Williams said: “I phoned them up and I thought it had been a mistake. With it being addressed to Scarlett I thought there was a mix-up but they just said ‘no, she needs to come. She can bring a friend or family member.
“I was so shocked all I could say was ‘all her mates are in school!’ I didn’t know what else to say.
“It’s hard enough having two daughters with autism, but this just seems ridiculous. Her older sister Melissa has the same pass and she didn’t have to do any of this.
“I don’t understand what questions they’re going to ask her, and I can’t believe they’ve asked a friend to go with her – she’s five.
“She can’t even read, she can just about spell her own name – and Merseytravel couldn’t even do that properly.”
The ASDA worker said she is ‘concerned’ about the length of time they’re expecting her daughter to sit still for an assessment.
Five months after applying Jackie Williams received a letter addressed to her five-year-old (Image: Liverpool Echo)
She added: “I’ve no idea what they’re going to ask but I think nearly an hour at an assessment is going to be pushing it. She won’t sit still for that long.
“They’ve had a letter from the school, the GP and the hospital so I’m not sure what Merseytravel think they can tell us about autism that they don’t know.”
The letter – which was wrongly addressed to a ‘Scarlette Williams’ – invited the youngster to an appointment at 1pm on a school day – but did say she can ‘bring a friend or family member’ along.
It reads: “Your assessment is expected to take between 30-45 minutes, please ensure you bring along photo identifications, as without this, the assessment may not take place.
“You can bring along a family member or friend to the assessment. Please let us know, in advance, if you require an interpreter and we will arrange this for you, or alternatively you can ask a family member to act as an interpreter for you.”
The mum was told to attended a 45 minute assessment at the Liverpool bus station (Image: Liverpool Echo)
A spokesman for Merseytravel said it follows ‘national guidance’ when assessing eligibility for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme.
He added: “We are sorry both for the delay in this process and if our correspondence has caused offence as this was not the intention.
“Our application process is aimed at capturing information, in line with this guidance, to determine if the applicant is automatically eligible.
“Where this is not possible, in some cases we will refer the applicant for further assessment via a qualified occupational therapist with a view to determining if a free travel pass can be provided.
“We will be reviewing the process with Access Independent with a view to understanding how we can reduce waiting times for our customers and improving how we can better address such correspondence to children and their families.”