A CAMPAIGNER in the Wee County is refusing to back down over her drive to return vital lung rehabilitation closer to home.

Linda McLeod BEM, chair of support group Breathe Easy Clackmannanshire, is pushing for the return of exercise classes for lung disease patients, after a reorganisation that saw a group video-conferencing service disappear from Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre.

Classes are now being delivered live at The Peak in Stirling or in Grangemouth and she highlights how there are local patients who are missing out due to the travel involved.

A trial of the new arrangements has now partially ended, but local patients will have to wait and see what the future holds.

Linda said: “I just met one of our members and she is in a mobility scooter.

“This [bringing classes to Clackmannanshire] would benefit her – how would she get to Grangemouth or Stirling?”

Linda argued there are definitely venues available locally, pointing to Alloa Leisure Bowl or the physiotherapy services at Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre.

Regarding the latter, the health board said it was not designed nor equipped for group exercise classes, but as for the Leisure Bowl it did not elaborate.

Linda can attend as she drives but when asked what she would do with no vehicle, she said: “I probably wouldn’t go.

“I’d probably need to get a bus and we spoke at Scottish Parliament about that – to get to The PEAK you have to get a bus to Stirling and if you’ve seen Stirling Bus Station [it’s busy with traffic and] fumes and that’s a no-no.”

NHS Forth Valley said feedback is being gathered from patients who had attended classes and will be considered as part of a wider evaluation and review “later this year”.

A spokeswoman added: “Initial feedback from the trial classes has been very positive and no patients from Clackmannanshire have requested any support or assistance with transport.

“Any future requests would be considered on an individual basis.”

She added that “only a small number of patients” from Clacks attended the video-conferencing classes and the “majority” travelled to the hospital for live classes.

But some would argue that even one patient losing out is one too many.

MSP Alexander Stewart highlighted that Linda, among others, “had fought hard” in the past to introduce pulmonary rehabilitation in Clackmannanshire and the fact it was taken away was “gravely worrying”.

He said: “I was deeply concerned that the relocation of pulmonary rehabilitation away from Forth Valley Hospital will disrupt access to these vital services and it is worrying to learn that my earlier concerns have sadly borne fruit.”

And added: “With six per cent of all deaths in Scotland last year attributed to chronic lung disease, ensuring access to high quality respiratory care must be a constant priority for the NHS.

“It is critical that pulmonary rehabilitation services are retained locally to ensure that people with COPD can access them easily.”