The NHS employs over a million people, spends billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and, most importantly, underpins the health and wellbeing of our society. It is an institution that is famous the world over and uniquely defines the values of the UK in an increasingly complex world. For me, as a health activist, it represents one of the greatest achievements of human endeavour in the modern industrial era.
Care is delivered by the NHS through a range of providers, with an increasing emphasis on the delivery of services in the community through GPS or urgent care centres. This is necessitated by the changing demographic structure of 21st-century society, where the number of people living long into their 80s or 90s is growing rapidly; as a direct consequence of the impact of the care provided by the NHS throughout their lives.
The hospital, however, continues to provide a focal point for care in the NHS and it is where patients of all ages will be referred to for the great majority of their diagnostic tests or surgical procedures. This is why getting people to and from the hospital, whether through private or public means, is becoming an increasingly important factor in the delivery of care in the NHS. Efficient and medically sensitive transport enables patients to arrive on time for daycare appointments, admittance for operations and helps to eliminate delays that can “clog up” the patient flows in our hospitals.
The term “flow” describes the progressive movement of products, information and people through a sequence of processes. In simple terms, flow is about uninterrupted movement, like driving steadily along the motorway without interruptions or being stuck in a traffic jam. In healthcare, flow is the movement of patients, information or equipment between departments, staff groups or organisations as part of a patient’s care pathway.
In practical terms properly organised transport ensures that people are able to safely return to their home or elderly care facilities when their need for clinical care has ended. Transport, for this key reason, must be considered as a fundamental part of the care pathway. The failure to do this by the Department of Health, NHS England and the devolved authorities could have damaging consequences for the delivery of care across the UK. In the worst respects, we could see a system that begins to falter due to its inability to coordinate the flow of people and care resources.
Evidence of this exists already in hospitals across the length and breadth of the NHS, who cannot discharge infirm elderly patients due to the lack of care home places or the safe means of transport to take them home. This places an inestimable strain on patients, their families and the care community that exists to meet their needs. It also impacts upon the financial resources available to the NHS which, regardless of its finances being “ring-fenced” by the Chancellor, needs to ensure that each pound invested in healthcare delivers a care dividend for patients.
For me, this means that the publicly funded ambulance service cannot and should not be considered as a freely available medical transport service for all patients. We should instead consider it to be a critical health resource for transporting those in the greatest acute need between the institutions that will deliver their care and recovery. Its role in the care pathway should be defined in this way with patients made clearly aware of its part in their care and the NHS more broadly.
With this factor in mind, I have created a privately and delivered the funded solution for the transport needs of non-acute patients, whose safe movement is of equal important to the maintenance of patient flow in the NHS. The Advatech “Medi-Taxi” service, which is currently operating in the East Midlands, combines the convenience of a cab service with an understanding of the care requirements of non-acute patients. Our call handlers and drivers are specially trained to ensure that the patients reach their destinations with the greatest care and convenience.
I believe that the universal adoption of this service will make a real contribution to the delivery of care in the NHS and help hard-pressed Trusts to save money on their transport budgets. This is because the “Medi-Taxi” service will offer a cost-effective solution to the patchwork system of non-acute transport services that currently exist in the NHS. Through working with Advatech, Trusts will be able to access a single source of delivery that will ensure the safe movement of patients, staff and their families between the places where they live, heal and work.
It’s what patients in the NHS need and we, at Advatech, are committed to delivering across the UK.
To find out more visit http://www.advatechhealth.com