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Written Statement -Plans For Modernising Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services

Vaughan Gething, Deputy Minister for Health

In a Written Statement on February 23, 2015 about progress against the recommendations in Professor Siobhan McClelland’s Strategic Review of Welsh Ambulance Services I outlined that the future of non-emergency patient transport services in Wales would be considered as part of a wider modernisation programme. This would explore the extent to which these services could be disaggregated from the emergency ambulance service.

Any plans to disaggregate non-emergency patient transport services must result in better use of resources for patients who rely on these services as well as improve the clinical performance of the Welsh Ambulance Service.

I have agreed plans developed by health boards and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust to modernise non-emergency patient transport services in Wales. These were developed following considerable engagement across the NHS, with trades unions, local authorities and service users.

Under the new arrangements, the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee will commission non-emergency patient transport services for health boards from April 2016 and plans for enhanced services for oncology and renal patients by September 2016.

A series of other changes will be in place by March 2017, including:

  • A national set of service standards and requirements which will extend the hours of the service between 6am and 8pm Monday to Friday; provide enhanced services for end-of-life care and an improved discharge and transfer service for all scheduled care
  • The appointment of a dedicated management team in the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust which will provide a stronger focus on service quality and enable the non-emergency transport service to be disaggregated from the emergency ambulance service
  • The creation of a new expert commissioning group to assist the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee to agree key performance indicators and monitor against them
  • The creation of a new non-emergency patient transport service brand.

The new arrangements will improve the quality of care by providing a safe and timely service, which meets the individual needs of patients; it will also support the development of skills and career progression for staff and will not compromise the delivery of emergency ambulance services.

They will provide a springboard for a joint public sector approach with local authorities to ensure more efficient use of the wider public sector transport services. They also provide opportunities for working with a range of local transport providers to meet the wider transport needs of local communities. This new way of working can bring benefits to the public by providing well-organised services which ensure people are offered the most appropriate transport services to meet their needs.

Overall, these new arrangements mark a step change in the commissioning, planning and delivery of the service which will see non-emergency patient transport services delivering greater benefits for the public and the wider NHS in Wales.

I look forward to seeing the plans delivered with pace and urgency.