Renal patients can still access non-emergency transport – for now

NHS Kernow has confirmed on December 5 that following a meeting with Chief Officer Jackie Pendleton;  Dr Iain Chorlton, NHS Kernow Chairman; Kidney Care UK; St Austell MP Steve Double, members of the hospital’s renal team including renal consultant Paul Johnston and Healthwatch Cornwall in October to discuss the impact of  changes to the non-emergency transport service (NEPTS) for people who receive dialysis, the following actions were agreed:

  1. During our consultation process, staff working at renal treatment centres repeatedly told us that they did not want to be involved in making decisions about who should be given NEPTS. We have agreed to work with Kidney Care UK and the hospital’s renal team to develop a draft medical assessment for renal patients. This work will be clinically led by renal consultant Paul Johnston and once agreed this assessment process will be incorporated into the NHS Kernow non-emergency patient transport policy.
  2. Concerns were raised for people who do not receive pension credits and could be regarded as ‘well off’ and as such would have to pay for their transport. It was felt that due to the frequency of travel the cost burden to this group could be significant. NHS Kernow is considering this point.
  3. The renal team will also work with the hospital’s central booking office to ensure that any queries or bookings for renal dialysis patients would be referred back to them.

A four week extension to the implementation of this policy while this work is undertaken has been applied by the hospital trust. Of the 161 people receiving dialysis at Royal Cornwall Hospital at that time, NHS Kernow said that it was advised that around 77 did not qualify for NEPTS on financial grounds. Most of the remaining patients would likely qualify on medical grounds and NHS Kernow is continuing to work with renal consultants and teams from the CCG to establish medical criteria to assess someone’s eligibility.

Dr Iain Chorlton said: “The planned actions have not yet been completed and we are continuing to work with renal consultants on the development of the assessment criteria for this specific group of patients to ensure it is clinically evidenced, robust and transparent to support clinicians and transport booking staff to correctly assess someone’s eligibility.”

As a result, an extension to the transition period has been made up to January 15, 2018 to allow completion of this  work.

Once agreed this assessment process will be incorporated into the new non-emergency patient transport policy.

NHS Kernow added that its aim is “to ensure equity for all people living in Cornwall that use non-emergency patient transport and as such we are also in discussion with Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust”.

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