Happy New Year to one and all

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBAnd what an interesting one we have to look forward to; with a forthcoming election and the NHS already being used as a political football.

As we will all be aware, the NHS has seen unprecedented levels of activity with Accident and Emergency departments across the country working beyond their capacity, ambulance services stretched beyond belief and primary care creaking at the front door.

And why is this happening? Well…

Between Christmas and the New Year, I took the family to a local cinema and followed it up with a pizza. As I was getting stuck into my Firenzi, I was interrupted by the noise of a siren and blue flashing lights pulling up at the front door of the restaurant.

A paramedic jumped out the ambulance, rushed into the restaurant and was directed over to a lady sitting at a table behind us eating her meal and who seemed to be perfectly happy. She was escorted into the back of the ambulance and 30 minutes later came back in to finish off her meal eventually leaving the building laughing and joking with her partner.

I was astonished at this. Not only would this have incurred a cost of at least £276, it tied up two highly-skilled professionals for probably the best part of an hour, during one of the busiest times of the year.

My kids could not believe what they had just witnessed and were even more astounded when we got home that night and put the TV on to be greeted with a news report on how stretched the ambulance service in the South West is and how they were not managing to respond to urgent calls.

Was this event a symptom of why the whole system is in overload?

I suspect the answer is yes, but no, but…

On chatting to colleagues in our three District General Hospitals there have clearly been a lot of very sick elderly people seen and admitted over the last three weeks. However the A&E departments were also overloaded by people who could and should have been treated elsewhere.

If, as a nation, we want to maintain an NHS that is free at the point of delivery, we have to treat it with the respect that it deserves and not waste people’s valuable time and expertise.

I wonder if this particular lady would have been as eager to call for an ambulance if she subsequently received a bill for £276…

New Patient Transport Services

Patients who have a non-emergency medical need and require help with transport to reach their hospital appointment can now benefit a high quality service with extended hours. The new transport service, provided by Arriva transport Solutions, will run 24 hours, 7 days a week, which is an extension of existing services, as previously, some ran only Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Arriva will run a single access centre which will provide a convenient booking and enquiries service across the region. Through the use of modern technology and systems, the service will be able to manage demand for patient transport efficiently and will co-ordinate and provide journeys in and out of Wiltshire. The service will offer flexibility to respond to changing needs; for example, new healthcare locations and flexible times for pick up and return home including evenings and weekends.

More patient information about the service can be found here: Non-Emergency Patient Transport Information Leaflet

The single access centre will also provide information and advice for those patients who do not meet the current Department of Health eligibility criteria. This will include signposting to alternative transport options, including voluntary and community providers. Healthwatch Wiltshire is also providing information and advice for patients who may need help with transport but who are not eligible for the service provided by Arriva. Their details can be found here www.healthwatchwiltshire.co.uk

New patient transport service for Wiltshire

There will be a new provider of non-emergency patient transport services for Wiltshire from later this year. Following a thorough procurement process, Arriva Transport Solutions has been selected as the preferred bidder to run services across Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire and Swindon.

Currently the non-emergency patient transport service is being provided by a number of private and NHS transport service organisations. The retendered contact will be provided by one organisation with a clear strategy for the provision of a tailored, high quality service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new provider will operate a single point of contact designated telephone number to enable patients and health representatives to book the transport quickly and receive advice and support about non-emergency patient transportation. Through the use of modern technology and systems, the service will be able to manage demand for patient transport efficiently and will co-ordinate and provide journeys in and out of the county.

The service will offer flexibility to respond to changing needs e.g. new healthcare locations, on the day requests and flexible times for pick up and returning home including evenings and weekends.

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Officer, Deborah Fielding said,

“Providing eligible patients with the best patient transport service which can meet their medical and mobility needs is extremely important to us as a Clinical Commissioning Group. We want patients in Wiltshire to experience safe, timely, clean and comfortable transport. Subject to contract, there will be one organisation responsible for co-ordinating all non-emergency patient transport and this should help to deliver a consistent and joined up service for all our patients who need advice about transport or need to be taken to their appointments.”