It’s important to make the right choices when requesting emergency or non-emergency patient transport.
South East Coast Ambulance Service respond to 999 calls from the public and will not carry out any journey unless it is a medical emergency so please take a moment to read about when it is appropriate to call 999.
You’ll also find information about what Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPTS) is and how to access it.
Call 999 in a medical emergency but only call 999 for an ambulance if it is a life-threatening emergency when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. Call 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts with these conditions. Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.
Medical emergencies can include:
- loss of consciousness
- an acute confused state
- fits that aren't stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that can't be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS)
NEPTS provides NHS-funded transport for eligible people and will take you to and from your home, to your care provider for planned appointments and treatment if you are a patient who:
- Has a condition such that you need additional medical support during their journey
- Find it difficult to walk
- Are the parent, guardian, or child, of patients who need transport
Surrey Heartlands CCG commissioning of NEPTS
Most NEPTS in Surrey Heartlands CCG, excluding the Surrey Downs area which is locally commissioned, are provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS).
South Central Ambulance Service NEPTS Provision
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) provide routine, pre-planned transport for patients who need to attend hospital, medical centres and outpatient appointments and cannot make their own way there due to recognised medical conditions which fulfil specific eligibility criteria.
They also provide pre-planned transport for patients who require clinically trained staff to transport them because of their medical requirements.
If you believe you are eligible for patient transport, you or your health professional will need to book with SCAS or telephone 0300 123 9840 between 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday.
Take a look at the SCAS website to find out more about what the SCAS service provides, such as:
- how to manage your booking online – NEPTS Patient Zone
- what happens if you’re not eligible
- what subsidised schemes are available
- conditions of travel.
Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services Provision
NEPTS (Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services) is governed by NHS England and commissioned locally by Surrey Heartlands.
All Patient Transport Service (PTS) or NEPTS bookings require a short eligibility assessment for NHS-funded transport. This involves a few questions to be asked at the time of the booking. This assessment process will ensure consistent adherence to the Department of Health Guidelines (2007). The aim is to ensure that:
- patients who genuinely need NHS-funded patient transport receive it
- patient needs are assessed fairly and equitably
To achieve this, patients will be assessed by their healthcare team. (An ambulance may not always be the appropriate method of getting a patient home, even if they arrived in one).
What if I’m not happy about the decision that’s been made?
If you have a medical need but have been declined NHS-funded transport you should, in the first instance, contact the Transport Booking Line on 0208 296 3960.
The Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) may be able to provide financial help if you are not eligible for NEPTS but wish to claim the cost of travelling to hospital. There are very strict rules to ensure only patients eligible for help can claim travel costs. To claim assistance a person must be receiving:
- Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Or be in receipt of an HC2 or HC3 certificate (Low Income Support Scheme)
For further information, visit the NHS England website. The amount of reimbursement is based on the most reasonable and cheapest form of public transport available and will nearly always be the equivalent of a bus fare. To claim, you’ll need evidence that you meet the above criteria and have evidence of your attendance at the hospital. Claims are processed at the cash office of most of the Surrey hospitals. You will normally be paid in cash.
How do I book my hospital transport?
The transport will be booked by the appointments or the admissions team or can be booked directly with the Transport Booking Line on 0208 296 3960. You will not automatically have transport for each follow-up appointment. Your needs will be assessed each time you attend.
When would I be collected by the Transport Service?
If you have an outpatient appointment, your transport will be with you in plenty of time so that you should arrive promptly for your appointment. After your appointment, inform the clinic receptionist that you are ready to go home so that you can be ‘booked ready’ for transport. If you’re being discharged from hospital you’ll be advised when transport will be available to take you home.
You do need to be aware that your pick-up time could be well in advance of your appointment time as the vehicle may be collecting other patients on route. Likewise on return or discharge you may have to wait up to 90 minutes for your transport home and other patients are likely to be travelling with you. Your time in the vehicle could therefore be longer.
Who can use this service?
NEPTS provides a vital lifeline for patients whose health conditions might affect their ability to travel without specialist care.
You may be eligible to use the service if:
- You require oxygen therapy from a skilled healthcare professional during transport
- You need intravenous (IV) support
- You can only be moved by stretcher
- The treatment you are receiving leaves you so debilitated that you can’t use alternative transport
- Your illness, condition or disability makes it difficult, impossible or undesirable to be moved by alternative transport
- You need the skills or support of trained Patient Transport Service staff during your journey
You can’t use NEPTS if:
- You don’t have a medical need
- You are visiting your GP, dentist, pharmacist or optician
Can I bring someone with me?
- You can only bring someone with you if this has been pre-authorised and:
- You are under 16 years old
- Your condition requires the constant attention of an escort throughout your journey
Complaints and appeals process
- Step 1:
If a patient is unhappy with an eligibility decision, the first step is to explain the situation to the booking provider, who will attempt to resolve the issue.
- Step 2:
If the patient and the booking provider are unable to reach a resolution, then the booking provider will pass the contact details onto their team leader or lead clinician within the booking centre for further investigation and/ or consideration. The booking provider will then get back to the patient with feedback and the outcome of the investigation.
If, after trying steps 1 and 2, the patient remains dissatisfied with the assistance provided by the booking provider, they can register a formal complaint directly with the Complaints Team at Surrey Heartlands CCG.
To help us deal with your complaint as quickly as possible, please include the following information:
- The patient’s name
- address and telephone number
- details of the request e.g. ‘To be taken from (home) to (hospital) on (date)’
- any information provided by the booking provider e.g. reasons for the patient being ineligible
- date and time (where possible) of the booking request made for transport.
Other help with transport in Surrey
Eligibility rules are strictly applied and it is recognised that, due to the rural nature of Surrey, some patients who are not eligible for NEPTS may still require some form of travel advice.
Local councils, and in particular Surrey County Council, both operate and support a number of travel schemes within the county of Surrey. Further details on the schemes available can be found on the Surrey County Council's Roads and Transport web page or via the Central Booking Service telephone line 0300 200 1067.
There are also regular local buses to all the Surrey hospitals. For the latest timetable details, you can call Travel Line on 0871 2002233 or visit their website. Your local GP surgery may also keep lists of community and voluntary car schemes that may be able to help.