Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS) Engagement Transformation and Procurement
NEPTS provides NHS-funded transport for eligible people taking them from their home to a care provider (and back again) for planned appointments and treatment.
This service is available for patients who:
- have a condition such that they need additional medical support during their journey
- find it difficult to walk
- are the parent, guardian, or child, of patients who need transport and who are not able to travel safely without them present
- The majority of NEPTS in Surrey Heartlands is provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS). The Surrey Downs area is locally commissioned and provided by Epsom & St. Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
The Surrey PTS contract is due to end in March 2023; discussions are underway, and it may extend for a further year as permissible in the contract. Thereafter a new contract will be required, and a suitable procurement process undertaken.
In August 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) published its review of non-emergency patient transport services (NEPTS). Nationally, NEPTS provide over 11 million patient journeys each year, covering around half a million miles each weekday.
The review has worked extensively with patient groups including Age UK, Healthwatch England and Kidney Care UK to ensure the needs of patients are at the forefront of proposals. It also engaged widely with transport and healthcare providers, commissioners and other stakeholders. The review report sets out a new national framework for non-emergency patient transport services to support them in becoming consistently responsive, fair and sustainable. Core standards and a new service specification are due to be published by NHS England and NHS Improvement in December 2022.
In light of the need to consider all options for future services locally, ahead of the procurement process, NHS Surrey Heartlands commenced the first stage of an engagement process in November 2020 and has also contributed to national review discussions with NHSE/I.
From July 2022, Surrey Heartlands and partner organisations became an Integrated Care System (ICS), coming together to shape and design services for those who use NEPTS transport. This includes families of users, carers and colleagues who book and manage services to ensure our Surrey offer meets the growing and changing demands placed upon it.
Bringing ICS stakeholders together to design NEPTS services will enable us to:
- realise a shared vision and commitment to providing a patient centred service that holistically addresses the NEPTS needs of Surrey citizens
- review what works and challenge the design of current services to identify where they can be improved and transformed now and in the future under new contract terms
- build upon the national service specification to design the optimal localised service model for Surrey citizens which equally fulfils the requirements of ICS providers booking and managing transport provision
Breadth of the NEPTS Portfolio
There are aspects of NEPT services you may not traditionally recognise. Our approach will encompass development of the four components below:
- Co-ordination and triage – assessment of eligibility, brokering and managing journeys, and signposting people to independent transport.
- Specialist transport services – for those who need adapted vehicles or support from staff with particular training during their journey.
- Non-specialist services such as private hire/taxis and community transport
- Reimbursement of travel costs – to allow patients or their families to cover the costs of private transport and, in addition, for those on a low income or meeting other criteria entitled to reimbursement through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.
We know that patient transport is an essential service for many people; it can directly impact the quality of users’ lives and those who care for them. In addition, a smooth running, reliable and robust NEPT service beneficially impacts the productivity of professionals and the clinical services they run.
We anticipate programme participation from South Central Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust (ESTH) who are our current NEPTS providers. Outputs from the programme will be published on this page for access by all stakeholders, including potential NEPTS providers.
By designing a service appropriately, accommodating the needs of all ICS members we anticipate being able to specify an integrated, cost-effective, agile, and proficient NEPTS offer.
Summary of activity undertaken to July 2022
- Five Round Table patient engagement events completed
- PTS Staff (booking and referrals) survey completed
- Developed and launched a smart survey for users and their carers
- Web page available with all documents/notes from engagement sessions
- Social media campaign launched to promote uptake of user survey
- Five workshops undertaken with staff from health and care organisations across Surrey
- Ongoing development of engagement content following feedback to inform development of local service model
- Contributions to national PTS discussions via NACN and engagement with NHS England/Improvement
- Discussions with bordering CCGs about opportunities for a strategic approach and possible partnership working
Project Initiation Documents detailing objectives, deliverables and evaluation criteria across two NEPTS Transformation Programme workstreams are available below:
- Surrey NEPTS Transformation Programme Specialist and Community Workstream Project Mandate [pdf] 254KB
- Surrey NEPTS Transformation Programme Booking and Eligibility Workstream Project Mandate [pdf] 230KB
Monthly progress reports
Taking into account the information we heard from service users, we will test hypotheses and ideas for different approaches across the Surrey healthcare system. We will seek opinion and track results to provide intelligence to support decisions regards appropriate vehicles, flexible and inflexible user types, privacy requirements, optimal wait times for users and clinical staff etc. Where appropriate, information gathered will provide evidence for in-contract permissible adjustments for improved experiences. Where this is not feasible learning will be incorporated into the service specification for the newly let service planned from April 2024.
Commissioners alone will consider the new service model, contracting profile and procurement approach.