More focus needed on how people travel to and from NHS services

Together with two leading charities, Healthwatch England are raising awareness of the issues people facing travelling to and from NHS services.
Elderly person sitting on a bench with a friend.

Healthwatch England will be working with NHS England to support their new national review of the links between the NHS and local transport.

Why patient transport is important

Between March and May this year, the Healthwatch network carried out a nationwide conversation asking communities how they want the NHS to improve locally, engaging with over 30,000 people across the country.

We found that travel was a key issue, with nine out of 10 people telling us that convenient ways of getting to and from health services is important to them. Indeed, people put transport above other things, such as choice over where to be treated and improving digital access to services.

In two-thirds of the country, communities told us they wanted more focus in local plans on improving transport links between health and care services.

We’ve known for a long time that getting to and from medical appointments creates practical challenges and a lot of worry for many residents. We’ve been working locally to raise awareness of this issue and to find solutions. Having a national review, and a real focus on the links between transport and health, shows this is an issue that must now be prioritised.

Making small adjustments, and working with local people on redesigning support has the potential for making a huge impact on peoples’ lives and can also reduce wastage in the system. This has worked well in Midhurst, where we have been working with GPs to listened and understand this issue. As a result they have adjusted appointment times to coincide with bus times.

- Katrina Broadhill, Healthwatch West Sussex Manager 

Our call for change

In partnership with Age UK and Kidney Care UK, Healthwatch England has been working with the NHS to take action. NHS England has announced they will carry out a national review. We look forward to working with them on this to ensure that people’s views and experiences inform their plans, from better commissioning of NHS patient transport services to working more closely with transport authorities and providers to ensure the NHS is connected in practical and affordable ways with the wider world.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said:

“Attending hospital can be a worrying time for many patients which is why we want to make sure that their journey to and from appointments is as smooth as possible.”

“Building on the NHS Long Term Plan's commitment to creating a person-centred healthcare service this national review of non-emergency patient transport will listen and act on concerns raised by patients.”

Making small adjustments, and working with local people on redesigning support has the potential for making a huge impact on peoples’ lives and can also reduce wastage in the system.
— Katrina Broadhill, Healthwatch West Sussex Manager 

Find out what's working well for people and what needs to improve when it comes to people's experiences of travelling to and from NHS appointments, in Healthwatch England's new brefing.

Read the report

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