Non-emergency Patient Transport Services (PTS) across Sussex continue to improve according to independent watchdog, Healthwatch.  Patients and carers give their views on their experiences of using PTS in this new report, which examines how the service has changed over six months from June to December 2017. The PTS is provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS).

A total of 186 individuals completed the Healthwatch survey on-line and in face to face interviews

Key findings…

  • Respondents across all areas of Sussex said the service was ‘better organised and more efficient overall’ with regular drivers having a significant impact on people’s experiences.
  • 85% (155) of all those surveyed were either ‘Very Satisfied’ or ‘Satisfied’ with the service, with 80% (145) of respondents saying that they would recommend the service to family and friends.
  • Patients using renal services were less likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the service and were also less likely to recommend the service to others, as they continue to experience delays and uncertainties around pick-up times, despite being regular users of the service; and
  • Those undertaking the survey in sites across Sussex sometimes encountered challenges to identify transport provided by SCAS.

A key concern for Healthwatch, identified through this latest review, is whether the current service is capable of adequately identifying vulnerable patients, such as those with caring needs, the elderly and those with multiple and complex needs, including wheelchair users. Some vulnerable individuals experienced lengthy delays before being taken home.

A SCAS spokesperson attending a Healthwatch event in Newhaven In April said, ‘lengthy waiting times are unacceptable’ and went on to say as an outcome of the issues raised by the report, they will meet with Sussex wheelchair groups to discuss concerns.

John Routledge, on behalf of Healthwatch In East Sussex, Brighton & Hove and West Sussex said

Whilst SCAS have introduced positive changes delivering tangible improvements, we believe much more is needed, particularly to ensure that services run better for renal patients. We will continue to seek assurances from the Trust and the lead commissioner High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group, that robust policies and procedures are in place, where the provider is sub-contracting Patient Transport Services as part of the contract. We would encourage all patients and carers to share their ongoing experiences of PTS in Sussex with their local Healthwatch’

South Central Ambulance Service took over a challenging contract with some historical issues to address and are pleased to see that patients report an improving service, while recognising there are still areas to improve on.

Debbie Marrs, Assistant Director of Quality and Patient Care, SCAS said

‘It is important for us to receive feedback from various sources to ensure we are continuously learning and improving. SCAS are working closely with commissioners on reporting our successes and areas for improvement and that partnership has grown over the past year. SCAS also remain committed to working with and scrutinising the work of our private providers and compliance’.

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