From this week non-emergency patient transport in North and North East Lincolnshire will be provided by Thames UK.
NHS funded Patient Transport Services (PTS) are there to help people get to their hospital appointments when they are too poorly or are physically unable to get there otherwise.
NHS North and North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups announced Thames UK would be the new provider in April this year. Since then, work has been on-going to make the transfer to the new service as straightforward as possible for the people who use patient transport as well as for the staff and volunteers who have moved across to the new organisation from the previous provider East Midlands Ambulance Service.
Thames UK have met with patients and staff at two local engagement events and have been working closely with Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and units attended by local kidney patients. The organisation is a specialist provider of transport for renal patients and has dedicated arrangements in place to minimise waiting times for people undergoing dialysis.
All staff, who will wear uniforms and carry ID badges, are required to undergo an enhanced CRB check and are trained in First-Aid, and have appropriate clinical training.
This important service is vital to more people than ever before and the CCGs wanted to make sure the NHS could continue to provide transport for patients who need it well into the future. This meant drawing up a new specification for the service that was informed by what local patients and their carers told us about their needs, with more than 500 people taking part in person and more than 170 people completing a survey about their experiences.
Thames UK was selected following a competitive procurement exercise earlier in the year. From October 1st, they will be covering all non-emergency patient transport across Northern Lincolnshire. Thames has two vehicle bases, one in Grimsby and one in Scunthorpe, with offices at the local hospitals. The main contact call-centre is in Lincoln.
Thames UK has considerable experience of working with healthcare partners and is committed to improving services, taking into account the experiences of clinical staff, people who use the service and their families or carers. Their vision is to move patient transport away from being just a logistics service to becoming an integrated part of patient care.
Patient feedback through informal and formal channels is extremely important, and Thames UK will undertake formal surveys including the ‘Friends and Family test’. They also plan to establish patient feedback groups.