A new campaign has been launched to encourage people in Suffolk and Waveney who use NHS non-emergency patient transport services (NEPTS) to cancel any booking they no longer need.
The We’ve Saved You A Seat initiative aims to reduce the number of avoidable empty seats in NEPTS cars and ambulances which have been booked by patients and are left unused because they are not cancelled. There are around 140,000 NEPTS journeys each year across the patch.
The campaign is being launched by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, NHS West Suffolk and NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.
NEPTS services are used by patients whose physical or mental health conditions mean they are unable to travel to NHS appointments at a hospital or clinic without staff to support them. Yet, when their appointment is re-scheduled or when circumstances change, meaning the seat is no longer needed, patients often forget to inform NEPTS – meaning the NHS has to pay for an empty seat.
Cath Byford, Director of Commissioning with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would urge people to help our NHS to help them by letting NEPTS know if they no longer need to use this important service. That way, we can offer their seat to somebody else who needs specialist support to reach their appointment while also helping vital NHS resources to go further.”
Dr Zohra Armitage, a GP in Bury St Edmunds and NEPTS lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The non-emergency patient transport service has a vitally important role in helping a specific group of people who could not get to their hospital or clinical appointment without specialist support.
“Yet, every day we know that seats which have been booked are not used as they have not been cancelled. We are asking people to call NEPTS as soon as they know they no longer require their booking. We understand that people are busy and that cancelling their booking may not be their first concern, but we really want to encourage people to make the effort.
“The NHS is facing severe financial pressures and people will be doing their bit to make sure our limited resources are best used and not wasted. The money saved could be spent on improving other local services.”
East and West Suffolk patients can contact NEPTS if they need to cancel a booking by calling 03458 500 774. In Great Yarmouth & Waveney call 08456 038115.