Patients to be tested for travel needs

A PENSIONER group has criticised a change in the system for transporting inpatients to and from hospitals in mid Essex.Phyllis Webb, chairman of Braintree Pensioners' Action Group, said the new arrangements could leave elderly people stranded or forced to take public transport when they felt unwell.

By Annie Davidson

A PENSIONER group has criticised a change in the system for transporting inpatients to and from hospitals in mid Essex.

Phyllis Webb, chairman of Braintree Pensioners' Action Group, said the new arrangements could leave elderly people stranded or forced to take public transport when they felt unwell.

Mid Essex Hospital Trust announced yesterday that inpatients requesting non-urgent transport would undergo an assessment.


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Only those with a clinical need who met new eligibility criteria would be taken to or from the hospital in a non-emergency ambulance.

Simon Andrew, transport manager, said: “In recent years the trust has experienced a steady increase in inpatient activity which has brought a greater demand for non-urgent patient transport.

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“This is very costly and can mean the service is not always used by those who really need it so we have introduced a new eligibility criteria.”

Inpatients requesting transport will now be assessed by a healthcare professional against the eligibility criteria to determine if they qualify.

Hospital staff will offer guidance to all patients, and their carers, who do not meet the criteria and need to arrange their own transport.

The decision will affect patients at Broomfield Hospital and St John's Hospital, both in Chelmsford.

Mrs Webb said the action group would be concerned about the decision and she would raise the issue at its next meeting.

“From Broomfield to here (Braintree) would be about £20 in a taxi and that is a lot of money,” she said.

“I know there are buses but if you have come out of hospital you might not feel like getting on and off a bus and you would have a walk at the other end.”

Mr Andrew added: “Other trusts already operate this policy and we felt now was the time for us to introduce it to help us make best use of the resources and reduce inappropriate journeys.

“Hospital admissions and discharges should be well planned to enable the patient to make the appropriate transport arrangements in advance.”

Patients on income support or pension credit can claim a cash refund for travelling on public transport if they do not meet the new criteria.

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