NHS’ patient transport service facing changes

Changes are being made to patient transport in the county.

NHS transport, known as the patient transport service (PTS), is available for patients who due to medical needs cannot use any other means of transport to get to or from hospitals.

Now a new eligibility criteria, already in place elsewhere in the country, is being rolled out in Northumberland.

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The national eligibility criteria has been in existence for some time and has been rolled out in other areas.

“We want our PTS service to provide the best service it can and we have to make sure that we spend NHS funds appropriately.

“We hope by introducing the criteria it will help to improve the patient transport service to those that it serves.

“Efficient use of the PTS service will allow us to free up resources for those patients in need of an emergency 999 response.

“We know the introduction of the criteria will mean that some people who have had PTS transport in the past will no longer be able to access it and understand that this may cause some difficulties.

“However, we currently have a system that is not fair across England as depending on where they live some patients have to meet the criteria and others don’t.”

Patients on a low income or in receipt benefits who find that they are not eligible for transport may be eligible for help with the costs of travel for appointments.

Advice for transport to appointments and treatment is available from the Patient Advice and Liason Service (PALS), which can be contacted on 0800 0320202 or by emailing northoftynepals@nhct.nhs.uk

Further information about the eligibility criteria and alternative transport is at www.northumberlandccg.nhs.uk