The NHS could reduce the time patients wait for patient transport and save £20m this winter new figures suggest.
Each day over 32,000 patient journeys take place across the NHS costing £460 million each year. This represents about £1 in every £275 spent by the NHS, approximately the same as the total cost of radiotherapy in the NHS.i
But new figures from RLDatix suggest that 70% of patients are waiting up to three hours for their transport meaning that vital beds are not available for patients waiting to be admitted to hospital, in turn causing long delays in accident and emergency departments.
As the pressure on hospital services continues to increase, these challenges are compounded over the winter period, and delays are exacerbated. The NHS Winter Plan 2023/24ii focuses heavily on NHS trusts having a robust approach to transport in place.
Having timely transport in place allows patients to ‘flow’ through the hospital so once a patient is medically fit for discharge or is transferring to another site, they can do so without long delays.
In turn this allows other patients to be admitted to hospital and reduces waiting times in accident and emergency departments.
Leigh Maylon, Product Manager from RLDatix said: “Getting patients safely to and from hospital is a critical part of patient flow, but currently, our figures show, that the service is not working for patients, NHS trusts or for NHS finances.
“The NHS Winter Plan highlights the importance of trusts having a robust approach to transport in place, but we know from our work in the NHS that patients are waiting long periods of time for their transport and that the costs of these services do not offer value for money.
“There is an alternative to this current situation. Our transport solution, Allocate Transport Marketplace, is a free digital service that is compliant with NHS England safety standards and has pre-approved and pre-accredited transport providers waiting to support NHS trusts this winter.
Transport providers bid for work from NHS trusts, from individual journeys to block bookings, meaning trusts will always have the pick of the best prices and the most reliable transport.
“Our customers see on average a 15% reduction in their non-emergency patient transport costs – which if every trust across the UK used it – would save the NHS nearly £70 million per year or £20 million this winter alone.”
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced Allocate Transport Marketplace for their patient transport needs in 2018. The implementation has seen the Trust eliminate 12-hour trolley breaches for patients requiring transfers in the evening from the accident and emergency department to other hospitals within the Trust.
A recent audit showed that the average transport waiting time for these patients is now five minutes when previously many patients needing this service later into the evening were not being transported until the next day. This has resulted in a reduction of patients spending the night on trolleys and eliminated “12-hour trolley breaches” due to transport delays.
Kris Wujkiw, Operations Manager, from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust said:
“The introduction of Allocate Transport Marketplace has helped us reduce 12-hour trolly breaches due to transport delays to zero – meaning patients get the specialist care they need quicker while we maintain flow within our emergency department allowing us to continue to receive patients who need our help.
In addition, we have saved over £198,000 by being able to safely discharge patients out-of-hours.
“The system is free to NHS organisations and for us it’s just a no brainer – it reduces waiting times for patients – freeing up beds for new patients, its safe and complaint against safety checks and it saved the Trust money.”
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