Health bosses and patients to share their experiences of NHS and private-sector transport to hospital

Outpatients are to meet for the first time the senior hospital managers who decide which organisations transport them to their clinical appointments.

The ‘listening event’ to be held next Monday (21 May)—jointly organised by Age Concern London, the London Ambulance Service, the Patients’ Forum for the London Ambulance Service, and Transport for All—will bring together outpatient-transport providers, the hospital managers who commission these services, and outpatients themselves.

The aim of the all-day discussion is to hear patients’ and carers’ experiences, good and bad, of being transported to hospital, in addition to the challenges faced by the providers and commissioners in choosing suitable transport-providers for their patients, based on the sometimes opposing criteria of quality and price.

“For a long time hospital transport services have been regarded as the Cinderella among the capital’s varied forms of door-to-door transport,” said Dr Joseph Healy of Transport for All, which represents disabled and elderly people using all forms of door-to-door transport.

“The reality is that this is a vital service for many long-term sick and disabled people and one which is crying out for proper regulation and quality assurance, which must include all aspects of clinical need.”

Samantha Mauger of Age Concern London commented: “The majority of outpatients are older people and all of them are sick or injured and therefore vulnerable. The treatment they receive when travelling to and from hospital should be as important as the treatment they receive in hospital. Their voice needs to be listened to.”

Nic Daw, London Ambulance Service Head of Patient Transport Service Modernisation and Performance, added: “We are here to learn from the experiences of a diverse range of patient-transport stakeholders —from patients to commissioners.

“Their views will inform thinking on how patient-transport services across the capital can be developed and quality standards raised, not just in our service but in those of the private providers which compete with us for outpatient-transport contracts with NHS hospitals.

“The listening event will give outpatients the chance to communicate face to face in a constructive, structured way, with some of the people who choose for them the medical transport service they receive.

“Our intention is to collate all the views expressed and then to put them into the public domain so that all patient-transport stakeholders have the opportunity to make changes that benefit patients.

“The involvement of patients at the heart of this event marks the start of an ongoing piece of work that will push for standards to be raised by all those involved in providing patient transport in the capital.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors:

  • The Patient Transport Services Listening Event is taking place this Monday 21 May between 10am and 3.30pm at the Oval Cricket Ground Conference Centre, London, SE11. Journalists who would like to attend the event should contact Craig Macpherson at the London Ambulance Service Communications Department on 020 7921 5113.
  • The transport of non-emergency outpatients to their hospital appointments is provided free-of-charge by NHS hospital trusts to those patients who would otherwise have difficulty in getting to and from those appointments.
  • Hospital trusts are permitted to award contracts for this transport of outpatients either to the ‘Patient Transport Service’ of the NHS ambulance service trust in their locality or to private companies or to charities.
  • Contracts for patient transport are awarded by hospital trusts to the patient based on price and quality after a process of tendering has been completed by prospective providers.