Thursday, 5 August 2010

Better transport saves the NHS money

People were all reading through the meeting papers and I noticed Neil Parrott (Consultant Transplant Surgeon, CMFT) looking quizzical and smiling to himself. It was the British Renal Society Workforce Planning Meeting in 2001 or 2002. When it came to the introductions and review of the last meeting’s minutes, all was revealed. Neil has been put down as representing the British Transport Society rather than the British Transplant Society! As the person who had checked the minutes beforehand I was a little flustered but we all chuckled and moved onto the agenda. Perhaps we should have taken the misprint as a serendipitous signal and considered transport within the scope of “The Renal Team, A Multiprofessional Renal Workforce Plan for Adults and Children with Renal Disease”, transport after all is a key quality of life issue for those on haemodialysis.

It is therefore fitting that the first renal specific example of good practice to be published on NHS Evidence is transport services for dialysis patients provided by Southend Hospital NHS Trust. In 2008/09 the transport costs for about 130 patients on haemodialysis were £277,000. Jacquie Tansley and Maggie Farrell also had concerns about the quality of transport. When reviewing their local results in the National Kidney Care Transport for Haemodialysis audit undertaken by the Information Centre, the Southend team, crucially involving patient representatives, realised for instance that transport planning arrangements hadn’t taken patients’ addresses and potential driving routes into consideration. Poor co-ordination was leading to poor quality and inefficiencies. By mapping patient addresses and adjusting dialysis times to accommodate regrouped home addresses, better transport services were put in place.

Taking a co-ordinated, systematic approach Patrick Harnett (Consultant Renal Physician) and the team at Southend Hospital were able to demonstrate a cost saving of £164,000 per year and that would be a saving in excess of £25.5M for the NHS in England - think how we could use that saving for more benefit for people with Kidney Disease. The amount of time patients now wait for transport has been greatly reduced, improving patient experience of care.

Better transport arrangements can improve quality and save money. As we all prepare for the forthcoming National Transport Audit, in October, I am sure that Patrick, Jacquie and Maggie will be getting lots of calls.

Related blogs:
Use iView to get the most out of the Patient Transport results
FOR ACTION: Patient Transport survey results launched
Patient Transport Survey 2008, first phase launch
Two in three patients take part in patient transport survey
Patient transport matters - be part of improving it