Mourners missed a funeral and a Scots pensioner was helicoptered home from hospital amid claims there was no room on an island ferry.

Now a dossier of examples of the lack of space earmarked for essential journeys, such as ambulance patient transfers, is being drawn up to highlight the transport crisis facing islanders on Mull.

Problems are escalating as summer holidaymakers flock to the island via pre-booked ferry spaces, which have been reduced from 961 passengers to 218 due to Covid-19 guidelines.

A man in his 80s was due to be taken home to Mull by patient transport ambulance last week, after a hospital stay in Glasgow.

But the trip was cancelled due to a lack of space on CalMac’s Oban to Craignure ferry service. The patient’s wife, who did not wish to be named,said: “He was in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and was supposed to be discharged a week ago on Wednesday, when we were told that it might be Friday. But then that was cancelled as well and they said the earliest they could get an ambulance transfer on the ferry was this Wednesday.

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“He then arrived home on the Friday after they took him by ambulance to Glasgow Airport to fly him up to Glenforsa airfield on Mull and a local ambulance brought him home from there about lunchtime.

“It was amazing, it only took 45 minutes in the helicopter but I think this situation is so unfortunate. “It was a private helicopter company and it will obviously cost money.

“I know a lot of people rely on tourists coming over but I really think they should keep a few spaces for patients to get back after things like hospital appointments.”

Joe Reade, chairman of the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee, said the mismatch between capacity and demand was becoming extreme. The committee is compiling a dossier of the problems islanders have experienced, to try and get action to resolve the issues.

Mr Reade said: “It’s a massive issue and it seems to be worse now, most likely because of the volume of camper vans that are coming.

“Ambulances only get priority on the ferry if they have their blue lights on. This man was helicoptered because the first return ticket was in six days.”

Mr Reade added: “People just can’t get on and off the island when they need to. Generally speaking tourists are making long term plans and they have booked their accommodation weeks before, so people who can book ferry space in advance are getting priority over people who can’t book in advance.

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“The policy is an attempt to be equal, but in practice what it results in is inequality for the type of travel you can’t book far ahead.

“We are hearing reports of how this is impacting in some extreme cases – for example mourners unable to attend an island funeral and multiple people having difficulty making important appointments, including hospital visits. We are raising this subject firmly with CalMac, Government and Transport Scotland.”

Finlay MacRae, head of operations for CalMac, said: “We will always work very hard to accommodate patient transfers to or from hospital on our network, even with space being greatly restricted due to ongoing Covid regulations and high demand for vehicle space.

“While we can’t discuss details of individual cases, we can confirm there was space booked and waiting for an ambulance transfer on June 18, but it was not utilised by the point of departure.

“We would have been happy to discuss further options if we had been approached again as we fully appreciate patient travel can change at short notice for a number of reasons.

“If a customer needs to travel urgently for a medical appointment, we always deal with each case to make sure that all options are explored. For urgent medical appointments where there is no vehicle space but passenger space is available, we have a protocol to arrange taxi travel to and from the ferry on either side of the journey. People needing to travel at the last minute can also use one of our Turn Up and Go spaces, a number of which are reserved for this purpose on a number of our routes.

“While travel restrictions have eased, we still must comply with Covid legislation which has meant that the number of passenger spaces available to book is much smaller than usual.”