"I worry about being in my wheelchair all night"

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

(as the patient),

I regularly need to go to hospital for treatment and, being in a wheelchair I need to have a transport ambulance to get me there and back. I never have a problem being picked up from home but getting back home is always a worry.

My appointments at the hospital take about 4 hours and so I would then get home at around 6: 30 – 7: 00pm when my carers come to help me get ready for bed. Two people are needed for the hoist. My biggest worry is that there will come a time when my cares will not have waited for me and I will be left in my wheelchair all night.

Over time the delays I have experienced being collected after my appointment have got worse. Can some provision be made for patients who, like me, are dependent on carers and need to get back home on time? The hospital appointments are stressful enough without the additional worry about getting back home.

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Response from Laura Martin, Patient Engagement Administrator, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service

picture of Laura Martin

Dear Lead466

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I am sorry that your recent experiences have left you feeling so worried. As you say, hospital appointments can be stressful enough.

I really wish I was able to provide you with the reassurance you seek, however, the demand for hospital transport is extremely high and we are unable to offer a bespoke service for patients with complex needs. Patient transport services are purchased by local Clinical Commissioning Groups, who in turn decide the level of service that Ambulance Trusts provide. Please allow me to explain the service that we have been commissioned to provide:

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trusts 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 health 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. We may be able to collect you straight away, 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.

I hope this goes some way in explaining how the service works, although I do appreciate that it does not offer you much in the way of reassurance. In order to relieve some of your worry, would the clinics you visit be able to offer you an earlier appointment time? This should increase the chance that you would be home before your carers feel they have to leave. Alternatively, would it be possible to arrange a later visit from your carers on the days that you have hospital appointments? I would recommend contacting your local Hospital Trust or Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss an alternative method of transport which may be more suitable to your individual needs:

North Bristol NHS Trust: 0117 950 5050.

Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group: 0800 073 0907

If you feel you would like to talk to me regarding the Patient Transport Service provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, please do not hesitate to call me on 01392 453831.

Kind Regards


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