• Engaging with Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services

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    CTA has established communication with the NHS England lead for Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS). During our conversation, we discussed the recent NEPTS review, which introduced standardised patient criteria, guidelines for signposting patients, and the outcomes of their pathfinder projects. CTA highlighted the increasing demand reported by community transport (CT) operators from patients referred by NEPTS. 

     As part of the NEPTS review, local systems are encouraged to provide information that enables patients who are not eligible for NEPTS to make independent journeys. This may involve offering an information service on local transport options, including community transport. 

    It appears that one of the reasons CT operators are experiencing a rise in transport requests could be that individuals are being referred from NEPTS to CT, if they are not eligible for NEPTS. Local systems have been advised that to ensure the safety of patients they should verify the suitability of the recommended transport options and contact the operator before referring or signposting patients to those services. 

    If a patient is eligible for NEPTS and referred to CT, the operator should be subcontracted, and the journey should be funded accordingly. 

    The discussion also highlighted the under use of the Health Care Travel Scheme (HCTS).  This supports people on a low income to cover the costs of transport to health treatment.   

    In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation, CTA aims to assess whether CT operators are receiving referrals that should be supported by NEPTS, or if individuals who do not meet NEPTS eligibility criteria are being directed to community transport without proper engagement beforehand. This evaluation will help identify areas where communication can be enhanced between local NEPTS and CT.   

    Share your experience

    We want to hear your experiences as they relate to referrals where the individual has said they have been signposted to you from NEPTS.  

    Please share your views by completing the survey by Friday 14th July.  

    The results of the survey will be shared with NEPTS, and together, we will explore collaborative ways to strengthen the connection between CT and local NEPTS in the future. 

    To improve awareness of the services provided by NEPTS, we have included a summary of eligibility criteria and guidelines for signposting to other providers below. For the complete NEPTS eligibility criteria, please download the document here. 

    Summary of current NEPTS eligibility criteria

    In August 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement published the outcome of the review into NEPTS. The review’s final report sets out a new national framework for NEPTS, with the aim of ensuring that services are consistently responsive, fair, and sustainable.   

    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. 

    Only patients who meet one of the below reasons for an appointment will be considered for eligibility for NEPTS: 

    a) The patient has been referred by a doctor, dentist or ophthalmic practitioner for non-primary care NHS-funded healthcare services – that is, diagnostics or treatment. 

    b) The patient is being discharged from NHS-funded treatment

    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: 

    A. They have a medical need e.g. they need to be closely monitored or need specialised equipment 

    B. They have a cognitive or sensory impairment requiring the oversight of a member or a specialist or no-specialist patient transport staff 

    C. They have a significant mobility need e.g. need to travel lying down or are wheelchair users 

    D. They are travelling to or returning from in-centre haemodialysis 

    E. A safeguarding concern has been raised, in relation to the patient travelling independently  

    F. They have wider mobility or medical needs that have resulted in treatment or discharge being missed or severely delayed. 

    Local systems may wish to add further criteria when determining eligibility for NEPTS, such as: 

    • A very high frequency of treatment  
    • Long distances to travel or high costs associated with traveling by taxi  
    • Limited/complex public transport options. 

     When assessing eligibility all other options are exhausted before NEPTs can be provided.  This can include:  

    • A relative, friend or carer who could assist – for example, using their own vehicle to take the patient or escorting them on public transport or in a taxi  
    • Patient booking their own taxi, including a mobility or assisted taxi  
    • Public transport, including community transport, where the public transport journey is not unreasonably complex or long 

    If patients are deemed to be eligible for NEPTS under criteria F, appropriate NEPTS transport (including non-specialist) may be made available. Non-specialist transport may include community transport and support from volunteers (refer to Section 6: Wider support). 

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