"Problems with patient Transport service"

About: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Patient transport service (PTS) Southmead Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

On 14 May I booked an ambulance to take me to Southmead hospital for an appointment in June as I was unable to drive.

On 11 June I checked that the booking was all in order for my appointment, I was told it was all OK and that I should be ready to be picked up between 10: 00 and 11: 45 in the morning for a 1: 20 appointment.

At 11: 45 I phoned Courtside as nobody had turned up. I was told everything was OK, the transport was on its way.

12: 45 – still no transport.

12: 50 – a taxi arrived to take me to the hospital. On the way to the hospital the taxi driver told me he only did this kind of hospital run when the ambulance service could not meet the time.

I got to the hospital a few minutes after my appointment time – they were fantastic. They completely understood why I was late and fitted me in.

At 4: 35 I was ready to go back home and asked the receptionist to check when transport would be available. I did not get an ambulance to pick me up until 6: 40 and after taking in a couple of other stops did not get home till 7: 50.

I was pretty stressed by the end of the day. It is stressful enough having hospital appointments and completely understand they can be delays but the experience I had was excessive. If I had to mark them I’d give them a minus score.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Steven Sykes, Advice & Complaints Team Manager, North Bristol NHS Trust

Dear dartist1 – thank you for your feedback about the ambulance service, but unfortunately without further details I cannot be clear if the transport was booked through North Bristol NHS Trust or South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Clearly action was taken by the provider of the service to ensure you reached you appointment, once a delay was apparent, but in periods of peak demand both services cannot always arrange collect to co-inside with the end of a patients’ appointment.

I apologise for the inconvenience you experienced, and regrettable this delay (depending on demand) can sometimes be lengthy.

Kind regards

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Response from Sara Coburn, Patient Engagement Manager, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust

Good Afternoon dartist1

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I am sorry that your experience left you feeling so stressed after, as you say, a hospital appointment that was already stressful enough.

It is not clear from your comment whether your transport was booked through our service or not however I will try and provide you with some information here.

Our Patient Transport Service is a predominately pre-planned service; we work to a schedule that has been planned out the previous day. This is to ensure that we utilise our transport as efficiently as possible and that everyone gets a vehicle that is suitable for their care needs and their mobility at the required time. This transport is often shared with more than one patient so we can made the best use of our resources, so they will be times when the journey home isn't as straight forward as you might expect.

Most clinics are able to book their patient’s transport with a known appointment time and a return time based on how long they expect them to be at their appointment. Once this journey home time has been arranged, our contract states that we have a window of time within which to collect patients to take them home - this is 2 hours. However, there will be occasions when transport might be delayed slightly due to a number of reasons, for example earlier clinic over runs, traffic congestion or vehicle breakdowns.

I understand that waiting for transport home can be frustrating. However, please be assured that when you travel with our service, our staff will always do their very best to get you home as quickly and as safely as possible.

If you would like to discuss this matter further please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Patient Experience team on either swast.patientexperience@nhs.net or 01392 261 585.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to provide feedback.


  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful