Did you know there are more than 5,000 NHS patient transport journeys made in the North east every day – but one in ten of these are made by people who don’t have a medical need for NHS transport.
If a patient is going to hospital for non-emergency tests or treatment, they are normally expected to make their own way there – or try and get a friend or relative to take them to hospital.
Some people who have a medical need can receive transport to and from hospital through non-emergency patient transport services (PTS) – but it is important this resource should only be made available to people with a genuine need and are deemed eligible.
Escorts for patients who have a medical need for an escort may also use patient transport services.
The local NHS is now working together to ensure we have a clear and consistent approach in making the best use of non-urgent patient transport to – and from – hospital, based on national criteria.
Below are some frequently asked questions about patient transport services which you may find useful.
How are these national criteria applied?
The service which books the transport asks a short set of questions to determine whether or not a patient has a genuine need to use the NHS patient transport service. Recent evidence has shown that more than 10% of journeys carried out by PTS are by patients who do not have a medical need for transport, which costs around £1.8million and can cause unnecessary delays for patients with a genuine need.
Will every patient be asked these questions?
Yes. Every booking that is made will be assessed for eligibility although some patients may only have to answer one or two questions.
What type of questions will I be asked?
The questions asked relate to how you usually get out and about. In many cases, if you have a car or are able to make shopping trips out on public transport independently, it is unlikely you will qualifiy for PTS. If you are normally housebound due to ill health or poor mobility, you would qualify for transport as it is unlikely you would be able to attend for any medical treatment without the support of the PTS.
What happens if I have access to a car but the treatment I am having means I am unable to drive?
If the nature of the treatment means you will be unable to travel home independently then you may qualify for PTS if you have no friends or relatives to assist you.
Can I have an escort?
You must have a medical need for an escort. If you request an escort during the booking then further questions will be asked to find out if the escort is required on the transport vehicle or can meet you at the treatment location. An example would be someone who needs on-going treatment during a journey.
Is there any support for patients on low income?
If you are on low income, you may be able to claim a refund under the ‘Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme’ – HTCS. This covers the cost of travelling to hospitals or other NHS premises for NHS-funded treatment or a diagnostic test arranged by a doctor or dentist. Further information is available in a separate leaflet ‘HC11 – Help with health costs’ or on NHS choices.
How do I book patient transport?
- Patients living in Teesside should call the Transport Information Service on 01642 263122
- Patients living in North Yorkshire should call the Advanced Booking Service on 0300 330 2000
- Patients living in East Durham should call Travel Response on 0191 383 5383
All other patients living outside Teesside and North Yorkshire should discuss their transport needs with their own GP practice. Bookings for transport are required two working days prior to travel.
If you are in hospital and ready to be discharged, please speak to a member of staff. Please only ask for transport if you have a medical need for transport or a medical need for an escort.
What happens if I am unhappy or feel unfairly treated?
The principle of medical need for patient transport is a national one, put in place by NHS England. If a patient is not eligible, then there is nothing to appeal against. However if you have concerns speak to the relevant PTS call centre or PALS.