Hospital-provided transport for kidney patients condemned

Patients travelling to hospital for life-saving dialysis could be better off taking the bus than relying on hospital-provided transport, a survey has revealed. By Jonathan Masterson.

The National Kidney Care Audit Patient Transport Survey, carried out by The NHS Information Centre, has found that a significant number of those who rely on NHS transport are receiving an ‘unacceptable level of service’, when compared with private and public transport.

Dr Donal O'Donoghue, England’s clinical director for kidney care said: ‘For people with kidney disease, transport to and from their dialysis is a major quality of life issue.

'Improvements in this aspect of care should be a priority – patient transport services, dialysis providers, commissioners and kidney patient associations all have responsibilities and need to work together.'

The survey was completed by nearly two-thirds of dialysis patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Of the three countries, the gulf in standards between hospital-provided and public or private transport was smallest in England, and greatest in Wales. Patients in Northern Ireland waited the least time to be picked up from home.

Managers of dialysis units were also surveyed, revealing that half had no system in place to monitor the quality of the transport for which they are responsible, and that many unit staff feel they are powerless to influence the provision of transport for their patients.

Among the recommendations made by the audit were calls for ‘clear and transparent commissioning arrangements’ for dialysis patient transport, increased patient involvement in all areas, and a need to make transport a key consideration when deciding the placement of new dialysis units.

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