In August 2021, NHS England published its review of non-emergency patient transport services (NEPTS).
NEPTS provide funded transport where a medical condition means that a patient would struggle to safely attend their treatment independently. Services provide over 11 million patient journeys each year, covering around half a million miles each weekday.
The review worked extensively with patient groups including Age UK, Healthwatch England and Kidney Care UK to ensure the needs of patients are at the forefront of its proposals. It also engaged widely with transport and healthcare providers, commissioners and other stakeholders.
Report of the non-emergency patient transport review
The review report set out a new national framework for non-emergency patient transport services to support them in becoming consistently more responsive, fair and sustainable.
The new national framework has five components: more consistent eligibility; improved wider transport support; greater transparency on performance; a path to net zero carbon emissions; and improved procurement and contracting.
Specific measures include:
- a new universal transport support offer for patients travelling to and from renal dialysis as part of the updated national eligibility standards.
- redesigning access to the healthcare travel costs scheme to make it easier for people on a low income to claim back journey costs.
- a commitment to 100% zero emissions journeys.
Consultation on eligibility criteria
Following the publication of the review we launched a public consultation in order to seek feedback on the patient eligibility recommendations we had outlined.
We specifically wanted to:
- clarify core eligibility criteria for those with a medical need, cognitive or sensory impairment, significant mobility need or safeguarding need, and for the transport of carers and escorts.
- provide more consistency and certainty for patients receiving haemodialysis treatment through a universal commitment to transport support for all journeys to and from in-centre haemodialysis.
- reinforce the expectation that people will otherwise be responsible for their own transport, while allowing discretion where treatment or discharge may otherwise be significantly delayed or missed.
This public consultation ran from 2 August 2021 until 25 November 2021. We received 156 responses in total. During this time we also ran four public engagement events which gave us a valuable opportunity to hear the views of members of the public, patients, NEPTS providers, NHS trusts, commissioners and local authorities.
Read the consultation feedback report: Non-emergency patient transport services eligibility criteria: Consultation response
In response to this feedback, we have now updated and published the eligibility criteria. The updated criteria will give patients clarity on who is eligible for transport and to ensure that where relevant, they have appropriate access to patient transport.
Read the final eligibility criteria guidance: Non-emergency patient transport services eligibility criteria
Included in the updated eligibility criteria is a universal commitment of transport support for patients attending in-centre haemodialysis. This document provides guidance to patients, patient groups, haemodialysis units, transport providers and commissioners in support of that universal commitment for transport support.
Summary of eligibility criteria
Most people should travel to and from hospital independently by private or public transport, with the help of relatives or friends if necessary. NHS-funded patient transportation is reserved for when it is considered essential to ensuring an individual’s safety, safe mobilisation, condition management or recovery.
The patient is likely to qualify for non-emergency patient transport if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- They have a medical need
- They have a cognitive or sensory impairment
- They have a significant mobility need
- They are travelling to or returning from in-centre haemodialysis
- A safeguarding concern has been raised
- They have wider mobility or medical needs that have resulted in treatment or discharge being missed or severely delayed.
Summary of mobility categories
We have worked with stakeholders to develop national NEPTS mobility categories to support transport providers and commissioners to determine the right level of resource requirements to match a patient’s mobility need, to support improved commissioning and to improve transparency of the service to enable benchmarking and service improvement.
The National implementation team will continue to support the wider system on the adoption of the recommendations of the NEPTS review and associated publications.