RUH Hopper bus service
In the UK the NHS has a duty to transport patients to hospital and Wiltshire CCG fulfils this duty with the Non Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT) service, which the CCG funds to the tune of £2.3million per annum. The service covers the whole of Wiltshire and transports patients to the Royal United Hospital, Great Western Hospital and Salisbury Foundation Trust Hospital, managed through a contract with Arriva.
Wiltshire CCG has not withdrawn funding from the RUH Hopper Bus Service because the NHS has not funded that service since 2007.
The NEPT service was introduced in 2007. All bookings are subject to assessment, to ensure the right sort of transport and the required levels of care are provided for patients during their journey. The service is also provided for the patient’s carer where their particular skills or support is needed. Where patients are not eligible for NEPT, they are signposted to other suitable transport providers within the community, such as the LINK service.
At its meeting in June 2015 the Joint Commissioning Board (JCB) agreed to provide funding from the Better Care Fund in 2015/16 for the continued operation of the RUH Hopper Bus Service for the remainder of the financial year. This was a temporary solution, with the agreement that the situation would be subject to a review by Wiltshire Council to identify ways of reducing the cost of the service.
Whilst Wiltshire CCG regrets it is not in a position to be able to match-fund the Hopper service with Wiltshire Council, the CCG’s position has not changed since the NHS withdrew its funding in 2007. The CCG maintains that the Hopper service does not provide an equitable service for all Wiltshire patients, and is restricted to transporting people to the Royal United Hospital only. The NHS is under intense financial pressure and the CCG has no spare resource to be able to fund the Hopper service as well as the Wiltshire-wide Non Emergency Patient Transport Service, which, as well as taking people to the RUH, also transports people to Salisbury District hospital and Great Western Hospital. Indeed, finding the funds required for the Hopper service would require the CCG to reduce clinical services currently provided for patients.