Patient and Vaccination Transport Options

Transport for Outpatient and Vaccination Appointments (22nd December 2020)

There are a number of options available for patients who are unable to drive themselves to a hospital for outpatient's appointment, or people needing transport to a vaccination appointment.

The following information is current today. We will update it after the Christmas and New Year break.

Friends and Family

Many people will be able to arrange transport with friends or family (or a commercial taxi firm). This is acceptable under the coronavirus restrictions (as "providing care to a vulnerable person"), and people should take sensible measures to minimise the risk of infection (particularly self-isolating if any coronavirus symptoms and frequent handwashing/sanitising).

The government guidance on travel contains information on car sharing that might be useful:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers

The Community Transport Association has this advice for passengers: https://ctauk.org/covid19-guidance/#supporting-passengers

Public Transport

The social distancing rules on public transport are very clear, so if this is an option it is worth looking at.

Bus information can be found here:  https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/buses/

Train information can be found here:

https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/public-transport-roadsafety/transport/publictransport/railserv/default.asp 

Local Community Groups

A number of the local community groups helping with shopping and prescription deliveries have received requests to help with patient transport.

Some of these groups may be willing to help with transport to vaccination appointments, and in some parts of Cumbria (e.g. Barrow) the local councils have also been able to help support the NHS with volunteers to drive people to vaccination appointments. But these arrangements will vary from area to area.

As with friends and family, the government guidance on safer car sharing might be useful:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers 

National NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme

The national NHS Volunteer Responder scheme has now been expanded to include transport for outpatients appointments.

This can be booked by health professionals through the GoodSam portal, and then details are arranged between the patient and the volunteer. There is limited information available to local services, and in particular, it is unclear how many volunteer responders are available in Cumbria, and if or how volunteer expenses will be reimbursed (meaning it is likely to work better for short journeys than long out-of-county trips).

https://volunteering.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/nhs-volunteer-responders 

https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHSreferral 

Many people in the more clinically vulnerable groups can now directly request support from a volunteer responder by telephoning the national helpline (0808 196 3646); this includes those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable ("shielding") group and the over 70s.

https://nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/services/eligible

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) Patient Transport Service (PTS) Service

The ambulance service can provide (free) patient transport under a limited set of circumstances, when the patient has a medical need, or limited mobility.

This is NOT available for vaccination appointments. However, those attending hospital for an outpatient appointment in addition to the vaccination would qualify for PTS if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Enquiries and bookings can be made by phoning 0800 032 3240

https://www.nwas.nhs.uk/services/professionals/pts/ 

https://www.nwas.nhs.uk/services/patient-transport-service-pts/make-a-booking/ 

Transport might be provided in an ambulance service vehicle or through the NWAS Volunteer Driver scheme.

Whilst PTS capacity was reduced during the early response to Coronavirus, the system is currently able to cope with all eligible requests.

Cumbria County Council (CCC) Community Transport (Voluntary Car Scheme)

The Cumbria County Council Voluntary Car Scheme can help with transport, this comes with a cost to the user.

At least 24 hours' notice is required, and those travelling must be able to get in and out of the vehicle (and walk from the vehicle to the appointment) unaided.

This service depends on volunteer availability.

Contact: 0333 240 6965* option 5 (not available from Christmas Eve until 4th Jan) Or option 1 between Christmas and New Year.

*Please note this number is only available in working office hours.

The Voluntary Car Scheme has been extremely limited during Coronavirus, but over 100 volunteer drivers have returned County wide, using appropriate PPE.

There may be some scope to use Council Minibuses, usually used for the Community Minibus Sharing Scheme, with volunteer drivers for vaccine appointments in the medium term.

Community Transport Schemes

There are a number of local community transport schemes in Cumbria. Some of these are able to support travel to vaccinations appointments, particularly if it's a request from a locality where the group operates. The County Council are assisting by co-ordinating bookings. You can find more information on these by calling the Cumbria County Council number; 0333 240 6965* option 5

*Please note this number is only available in working office hours.