"Less than 24 hours after surgery I was being bounced around on public transport!"

About: Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust Southmead Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I had an operation on Friday and stayed in hospital overnight. I wasn’t told until Saturday night that I could go home. I live quite far from the hospital and I had no way of getting home. It was suggested that I call Patient Transport which I did. They informed me that it has to be booked 24 hours before. Despite not having any other option than the bus, the hospital still said I had to leave.

Less than 24 hours after surgery I was being bounced around on public transport! It took me 3 hours and 25 minutes to get home.

Since changes to Patient Transport, my experience was appalling. I know money needs to be saved but, especially when Public Transport is poor, there are logistical reasons for providing Patient Transport.

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Response from Operations Manager for PTS, Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust

We are always concerned when we hear adverse comments about the patient transport service we provide as Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS). Without more detail it is difficult to comment precisely on the circumstances but I would like to address some of the concerns that have been recorded.

Access to the non-emergency patient transport service is governed by national criteria laid down by the Department of Health (DoH). These criteria are not based on any logistical reason but based simply on medical need. The eligibility criteria can be found in the DoH Finance Manual chapter 20 (20.24). All transport has to be authorised and booked by a healthcare professional such as a doctor or nurse who can assess a patient’s eligibility against these guidelines. Within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) area patients are not able to order or book their own transport.

The current contract that GWAS has with BNSSG does enable the transportation of a proportion of eligible patients with just 4 hours notice. This reactive service would normally cover short notice requests for the discharge and transfer of fairly poorly patients to other healthcare establishments such as community hospitals and care homes.

For patients who able to leave hospital but are perhaps still in need of some assistance to get home the usual process would be for healthcare staff to explore and encourage the use of public transport or friends and family. This has always been the case because ambulance transport can be a very expensive alternative to other forms of transport. It would appear that this process has been followed in your case and is not necessarily a reflection of any recent changes; rather a reinforcing of the existing criteria.

I hope this helps to explain a little.