NHS patient transport increased abuse

Members of the public are being reminded that NHS patient transport services are only for people who have a medical problem and who do not have access to public or private transport to get to hospital.

The reminder is being issued as more and more hospital staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital face abuse from carers and patients who are demanding free NHS transport despite having access to public transport or their own private transport.

The East of England Ambulance Service provides the Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT) service for patients in Norfolk who are clinically unable to make their own way to and/or from hospitals for an appointment and have no other means of travel.

The non-emergency transport service carries patients who are unable to travel to hospital appointments by public or private transport because of a medical condition. An average of 500 such patient journeys take place every day during the week (about 130,000 per year) to and from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. This services costs NNUH in the region of £2.5 million a year.

The non-emergency service is only for patients and in special circumstances, for carers. If a patient has their own transport or can use public/private transport or via friends or families then they will not be eligible for free NHS transport.

The medical criteria for the service is:

  • Severe mental impairment
  • Treatment on the day of appointment resulting in physical side effects
  • Severe eyesight problems
  • Severe mobility problems
  • Uncontrolled epilepsy
  • A child with disability or special needs

Matron Sian Watkins said: “The NHS non-emergency patient transport service is there for patients who have a clear medical need and for those who have no other means of getting to and from hospital. Increasingly our staff are being abused by people demanding free transport despite having their own access to transport. If people do not use the NHS in a responsible manner then other essential services may be affected.”

Liz Joyce, patient transport services locality manager for the EEAS, backed the hospital’s call for appropriate use of the service, adding: “Our staff in the patient liaison office based in the hospital try their best to help people who have a genuine need for transport. But too often their job is made more difficult by people making unreasonable demands on them and the service.”

Recent incidents have seen a patient requesting free NHS patient transport to take them home from hospital because they did not want to disturb their partner who was at home watching television; a patient who demanded to be dropped off in the city centre so they could do their shopping, and a transport ambulance picking up a patient from a home that had three cars sitting in the driveway.

Travel information can be obtained via the NNUH website www.nnuh.nhs.uk which includes information on getting to the and help with travel costs. Alternatively for public transport details call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 or visit www.traveline.org.uk

Wednesday 18th of April 2007 09:00:17 AM