• Healthy Communities in Scotland

  • Healthy Communities Programme

    Community Transport is at the heart of a healthy community. Every single day accessible, community-owned and non-profit transport services help thousands of people across Scotland to:

    • Stay physically active and healthy;
    • Live well and independently for longer in their own homes;
    • Connect with friends, family and neighbours to boost mental health and wellbeing, as well as prevent exclusion, isolation and loneliness; and,
    • Access health & social care appointments, facilities and services like GP surgeries, hospitals, hospices, pharmacies, social care and vaccination centres in comfort, confidence and safety.

    However, sadly, we’ve heard all too often from our members that these essential services aren’t always properly appreciated or valued. And in some places, they don’t exist at all, due to demand outstripping supply or a lack of funding, support and volunteers.

    It’s a very challenging landscape not just for operators, but for patients too, especially older people and disabled people who need friendly support and door-to-door or door-through-door transport.

    The result is increased anxiety, poorer patient outcomes, missed appointments and longer NHS waiting lists. With an ageing population and a shrinking bus network, the situation is only likely to get worse without change.

    Our Vision

    Our vision is that everyone in Scotland has the support they need to access health & social care and live a healthy life. We can’t deliver this without Community Transport.

    Our Objectives

    Our new Healthy Communities programme aims to:

    • Celebrate the role and impact of Community Transport in delivering non-emergency patient transport and nurturing healthy communities with new activities and media;
    • Provide new advice and support for Community Transport operators on the big issues of engagement, funding and volunteer recruitment with new events and resources;
    • Make the case for more public investment into Community Transport to improve access to health & social care, improve patient outcomes, prevent missed appointments and reduce costs for taxpayers with new data and evidence; and,
    • Facilitate new collaborations, consortia and partnership working between Community Transport operators, the NHS, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Government to improve access to health & social care.

    Our Work

    Our Healthy Communities programme will therefore have following elements from January 2024 and over the next 18 months:

    a. Engagement

    The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 created two new duties which required NHS Boards to work with Community Transport operators and to have regard to community benefit in non-emergency patient transport contracts.

    NHS Scotland’s Climate Emergency & Sustainability Strategy for 2022 to 2026 also makes positive and welcome commitments to improve access, work with Community Transport and and work with CTA.

    But our members tell us little has changed on the ground. Too many operators still struggle to engage and far too many people and communities are still left without support. It’s time for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to deliver and turn the promises of the 2019 Act and the 2022 Strategy into reality.

    We’ll engage with NHS Boards to encourage better communication and closer collaboration with Community Transport, as well as work with the Scottish Government to inform and influence their new Travel to Health Delivery Plan, which is under development and seeks to implement the 2019 Act.

    More details will be announced in due course.

    b. Research

    We’ll produce new analysis, data and evidence to better understand our sector’s role and bolster the case for investment in community-owned, non-profit and non-emergency patient transport.

    More details will be announced in due course.

    c. Resources

    We’ll explore whether we can create new resources to help our members who deliver non-emergency patient transport to engage NHS Boards, secure funding or recruit volunteers.

    More details will be announced in due course.

    d. Events

    We’ll organise and host a series of online events to enable peer-to-peer learning and support for our members who deliver non-emergency patient transport.

    More details will be announced in due course.

    e. Scottish Ambulance Service’s Scheduled Care Strategy

    The Scottish Ambulance Service is beginning work on developing a new Scheduled Care Strategy. We’re partnering with them to give Community Transport operators the chance to have their say and shape the new strategy.

    We’ll be organising a joint survey and facilitating a joint focus group.

    More details will be announced in due course.

    f. National Care Service

    The creation of a new National Care Service for Scotland represents an opportunity to remove barriers to access to social care, like unmet transport needs; better align health, care and transport services; and shift investment towards prevention and early intervention.

    Accessible transport in the local community should be an integral part of holistic, person-centred care packages. You can read more about what we’d like to see here.

    We’ll continue to inform and influence the Scottish Government’s plans by engaging with officials and participating in ongoing consultation events for stakeholders and communities, like the National Care Service National Forum. You can find out more about the co-design process here.

    Previous Work

    Our new programme builds on strong foundations of previous work in recent months and years.

    We’ve previously responded to a number of relevant policy consultations and inquiries, including:

    We published a report early in the COVID-19 pandemic about the incredible resilience and importance of Community Transport in the most challenging of times, as operators went above and beyond to deliver food parcels, collect prescriptions and ensure everyone could access testing, treatment and the vaccine:

    We supported research by Voluntary Health Scotland into the inclusivity of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, where collaboration with the third sector was successful and how it could be improved in the future:

    We also conducted research to support a report by the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS), which advises Scottish Ministers. The report is now closely influencing the work of the Scottish Government and the NHS to create the new Travel to Health Delivery Plan:

    Back in 2017, CTA published a report which explored how more innovative delivery models could improve non-emergency patient transport and set out some of the changes we’d like to see:

    Stay up-to-date

    Make sure you stay up-to-date with all of the latest news in our programme by checking this webpage or signing up here for our weekly Scotland Spotlight newsletter.

    Get in touch

    If you’ve got a question or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at scotland@ctauk.org.