It has been an extremely busy year as the four Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have taken forward plans to commission a new non-emergency patient transport (NEPT) service which will start on 1 May 2017.
As announced in October, the new five-year NEPT service will be operated and managed by West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS). The CCGs’ investment in the contract has provided WMAS with the resources to purchase a new fleet of vehicles, which will help improve patient comfort and the trust has identified two sites where the vehicles will be garaged and located for dispatch in Birmingham.
The key priority now is for WMAS to create mobilisation plans for the service for the five NHS trusts:
- Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
- Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- Royal Orthopaedic NHS Foundation Trust.
All the trusts will go live with the new NEPT service on 1 May 2017, with the exception of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, which will have a plan by September 2017 and then go live on 6 January 2018. The CCGs and WMAS will now meet fortnightly between now and May 2017 to ensure that the project remains on track.
WMAS is also working on a process for providing a NEPT ‘GP same day referral’. This will allow patients who have been visited at home by a healthcare professional to be taken for same day assessment at an NHS hospital trust, where required.
Currently, this patient transport is managed via the Emergency and Urgent WMAS contract. This change to the service will ensure that patients are taken to a hospital quicker – within 120 minutes, as opposed to the current four-hour target.
WMAS will begin talks in January with staff who will be transferring and recruitment will be used to fill any additional posts required for the new service.
As part of the CCGs’ plan to centralise booking of NEPT services from May 2017, out of area requests will be managed by WMAS for all Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull patients.
Currently where there are requests for requests for patients to access NHS services outside the West Midlands, or for repatriation, these are processed by the Individual Funding Request Team. More information and details of how to book this service will be published near the go live date.
Finally, following requests for more information on the new NEPT service, WMAS is currently in the process of developing a communication and engagement plan; information for NHS staff, patients and the public will be timed to coincide with the service starting in May 2017. The following documents will then be available:
- Patient charter
- NEPT website and social media
- Booking email address and single point of contact telephone number
- Online booking
- Book ready kiosks on larger hospital sites
- SMS text travel alerts as well as for patient feedback.
On behalf of the four Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull CCGs we would like to thank everyone for their support and working with us this year to improve local NEPT services.
We wish you a happy new year and will continue to publish a quarterly briefing throughout 2017, with the next edition due in March.