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Cal Mac is today (Friday, February 3) launching a revised medical appointment protocol to ensure island passengers can receive NHS medical treatment.

Following demands from local communities in the wake of the ongoing ferry disruptions, Cal Mac has agreed to new eligibility criteria to make it easier to travel with a vehicle.

The move has been agreed with Transport Scotland and will operate as a pilot scheme until the end of the summer timetable season.

Hospital discharge patients are now included in the qualifying criteria, as discharges often occur at short notice when ferries are already fully booked.

The other change is the time limit for confirmation of medical appointments has been extended from one week to three weeks. However, bookings must be made within five days of receipt of an appointment.

The urgent medical protocol is to be reviewed with Transport Scotland near the end of the summer timetable, with a view to extending the changes into the winter.

Iain Slorach, Contracts and Planning manager for CalMac, said: “It is important that islanders with an urgent medical need can attend their appointments on the mainland, and our protocol ensures that they do not miss these when space is limited.”

Full details of the medical appointment protocol can be found on the Cal Mac website.