What is the universal commitment to transport support?
The NHS in England will provide a universal commitment to transport support for all journeys to and from in-centre haemodialysis. This commitment does not depend on income and the right type of transport will be a shared decision reflecting the fact that some people prefer to travel to/from dialysis in different ways.
This will help those of you on in-centre haemodialysis; we have all been waiting for the confirmation that this is going ahead while lots of consultation has taken place with commissioners, trusts and transport providers.
This new commitment asks commissioners to include awareness, access, simplicity and timeliness in considering how to support non-emergency patient transport; highlighting the importance of improving quality as well as availability of patient transport.
However, as well as quality, there are lots of questions about funding – this guidance says that people can receive reimbursement which is not means-tested and that hospitals (if they don’t already) should develop a process to do that. The rate of reimbursement is still under discussion and is up to individual hospital trusts.
I endorse the universal commitment we have made to transport support for patient journeys to and from in-centre haemodialysis. This will ensure patients are empowered to take shared decisions and feel supported to retain their independence.”Vin Diwaker Medical Director for Transformation at NHS England
Your unit should discuss the options of reimbursement for travel costs or patient transport. They should make you aware of this and any other related support, such as free car parking.
When will it happen?
This should happen in new transport contracts that started as of April 2022 and with existing services by April 2023. This means that this will come into force at different times across England. If you have any questions about this, speak to your unit and ask them about when the guidance will be applied there. It should be introduced no later than April 2023 and we hope that it is already being rolled out in many areas already.
What happens now?
The annual Kidney Patient Reported Experience Measure (PREM) survey, run by Kidney Care UK and the UK Kidney Association, shows that getting to and from dialysis treatment is one of the lowest rated parts of the experience of being a person on dialysis. We know that this is not just about not being charged for transport, but about the quality of the services and the communications with you from session to session. We will be monitoring what happens next through our continued membership of the NHS Expert Advisory Group, with support from our advocacy officers and with what you tell us.
We’re also keen to hold the NHS to account on this so please keep us posted on your experiences of patient transport by emailing our Policy team.
Following an active campaign on this issue by Kidney Care UK, the NHS has spent the last four years working with charities, including Kidney Care UK and other organisations, through their Transport Expert Advisory Group to help shape the guidance.
We’re delighted that this guidance has been published and shared across NHS England. For far too long we have heard from patients about the variable and often difficult experiences they have had when travelling to and from their dialysis. These individuals make over 300 journeys a year just to stay alive, this is an opportunity to improve their lives and experiences of care.Fiona Loud Policy Director, Kidney Care UK
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