The review explores the service as it is currently provided, with over 11-12 million patient journeys each year, covering half a million miles each week day. It is estimated that around £460 million is spent on Non Emergency Patient Transport each year spent by the NHS.
The review highlights positive areas of work, with patients valuing the service they receive and the flexibility of the service during the pandemic to support patients with better collaboration between partners and social distancing measures.
However it also highlights that eligibility for Non Emergency Patient Transport varies across CCG with differing interpretations of Government guidelines, and service commissioning, planning and management has been poor in some areas.
The Report suggests a new national framework comprising five components:
The Rural Services Network as part of its Revitalising Rural Campaign, sets out a number of asks of Government in relation to Access to Rural Health and Care. The report doesn’t specifically consider rural areas and the different challenges that rural residents may face due to lack of public transport options.
The RSN sets out a specific ask of Government in relation to access to health and care services as below:
Access and travel to hospitals
Local health partnerships (STPs and ICSs) and trusts should take better account of accessibility and transport availability when drawing up plans to reconfigure acute and emergency services at their main hospital sites. This should address access for patients, visitors, and staff from rural locations, including those without a car or those unable to drive. It is especially important for patients whose treatments require a regular visit. Hospital transport schemes should also be made more widely available. This and other issues would be easier to address if funding allocations to local NHS areas were better aligned with the costs rural areas typically face from serving an older aged population. The hospital building programme should be used to improve access to hospitals in rural areas which are not well served
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