Protecting Cornwall's renal transport services

Following a consultation on Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS) in early 2017, the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (KCCG) reviewed the way they interpret the national guidelines for eligibility of patient transport services. This resulted in the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to patient transport services for dialysis patients from September 2017. I was extremely concerned by the KCCG’s interpretation of the guidelines as this would potentially put vulnerable patients at risk by withdrawing vital support that enabled them to access life-saving treatment.

I immediately contacted the KCCG to raise these concerns and strongly urged them to reconsider, requesting they suspend implementation of these charges until a suitable resolution could be found. I was pleased the KCCG listened to the calls from myself, other Cornish MP colleagues, medical professionals, charities and other health advocates and agreed to look again at this decision.

In October 2017, I met with a number of representatives from the KCCG, members of the renal team from the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT), Healthwatch Cornwall and Kidney Care UK to discuss these concerns and press for a suitable resolution. It was an open and constructive meeting and the KCCG along with members of the renal team from RCHT are working together on producing and agreeing an appropriate assessment criteria to ensure dialysis patients will continue to receive transport services to dialysis treatments free of charge.

Subsequent to this meeting, the KCCG have stated they are considering concerns about the financial burden of transport costs for patients whom may be considered ‘well off’ and therefore would not normally be eligible under the financial criteria. I put forward my strong support at the meeting for this to be considered when assessing financial eligibility due to the high frequency and lifelong requirement of dialysis appointments and am pleased to see they are exploring this point.

I am also pleased the KCCG have confirmed that whilst this work is undertaken, all renal patients in Cornwall travelling to Treliske or Derriford Hospital for dialysis treatments will not be expected to pay for transport to these appointments up until 31st March 2018.

I am continuing to work with all involved to ensure no dialysis patient is expected to fund transport services for this life-saving treatment.

For any patients accessing transport services who may be affected by this or with concerns about ongoing funding for hospital transport services, I would strongly encourage you to contact the Central Booking Service.

They can be contacted via:

01872 252211

More information about alternative transport schemes and additional help with costs is available via:

https://www.kernowccg.nhs.uk/your-health/patient-transport/