Patient transport in NHS Lothian has been transformed after the health board became the first in Scotland to create a dedicated Transport Hub. The unique system, which is expected to save an estimated £1 million, organises all non-emergency patient journeys and has been designed to boost efficiency and improve patient flow.
With a fleet of ambulances, mini-buses with carers, volunteer cars and taxis at its disposal, the Transport Hub provides a single point of contact for staff seeking to arrange patient transfers or to take the patient home.
It means that when a patient, who requires transport, is due to leave hospital, ward staff simply have to make one call to the hub, which is open 365 days per year.
Specially-trained staff at the end of the phone will then organise the right kind of vehicle, depending on the needs of the patient and their clinical requirements.
In the past, ward staff would have contacted The Scottish Ambulance Service to arrange a journey or would have booked a private ambulance company directly.
Jim Crombie, Director of Scheduled Care, NHS Lothian, said: “The Transport Hub is a completely unique concept and we are really proud to be the only health board in Scotland to have taken this approach to planned patient transport.
“The Transport Hub is a much more efficient way of working. It improves the overall patient experience while also freeing up ambulances to be used for emergency transfers.”
The Transport Hub, which is based at the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh, has become a crucial link in the discharge process, ensuring a smoother, smarter and more efficient way of working.
The team handle around 400 calls a day, from 24 of NHS Lothian’s Acute and Primary Care sites and also offers a level of support to a number of care homes within our boundary. Using a Patient Needs Assessment (PNA), the call handlers gain information from ward staff which allows them to arrange the most appropriate transport and equipment for the individual needs of the patient. This is done in real time so that each journey can be planned and logged and the caller advised immediately as to the transport option available.
By ensuring the correct mode of transport is in place, the system helps reduce clinical risk, allowing the patient to be moved safely from hospital to home. It also means hospital beds become available for new and emergency patients in a more timely and organised fashion.