Non-emergency patient transport

Overview

What is patient transport?

Patient transport is a service provided for patients who are unable to attend hospital appointments by public transport or any other means (including private minicab) due to their medical condition.

Can I use patient transport?

Wherever possible, patients are required to make their own way to and from hospital appointments. If your medical condition affects your ability to travel independently (including with the help of friends, relatives or carers), our transport service can assess whether you meet the Department of Health and Social Care's criteria for eligibility to use this service.

Patient transport service

Our patient transport services are operated by DHL.

Access to patient transport is based on medical need and we follow the Department of Health and Social Care's (DHSC) eligibility guidance. Patients or their representatives who are seeking transport can make a booking via our call centre on 0333 240 4909.

The call centre uses assessment questions for each booking to determine a patient's right to access NHS-funded transport.

The DHSC eligibility criteria restrict transport to patients whose clinical condition means that travelling by any other means would be detrimental to their recovery or existing condition, such as (but not limited) to:

  • patients who need to be transported on a stretcher
  • some wheelchair patients
  • some patients receiving oxygen
  • patients who require paramedic services
  • patients who need the support of patient transport staff during the journey

Ability to pay for travel

Patient transport is provided based on medical need only and not whether the patient can afford the cost of their journeys to and from appointments. Some patients on a low income may be eligible for reimbursement of travel costs through the healthcare travel costs scheme (HTCS). This funding can also be issued in advance, either per journey or in a block sum, depending on the frequency of travel.

How is hospital transport booked?

You should contact the transport assessment team on 0333 240 4909 (open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) to find out if you can apply for this service. If you need help to request hospital transport, a friend, relative or carer can call on your behalf.

Your eligibility for hospital transport will need to be reassessed each time.

What does the assessment involve?

This is a short, confidential telephone interview to assess your transport needs.

How much notice should I give?

Please contact the transport team on 0333 240 4909 as soon as you can or at least two days before your appointment to give us time to arrange your transport.

What can I do if I am not eligible for transport?

You can talk to our PALS team who will try to resolve your transport issue and if suitable arrange for an assessment nurse to review the original.

If you are not happy with the decision, you can contact our complaints department. 

If you are eligible for patient transport

Will you confirm my booking?

Yes. On the day before your hospital appointment (or on Saturday if your appointment is on a Monday or Tuesday), we will phone you to:

  • make sure you are still coming to your appointment
  • check that you still need hospital transport
  • confirm your address
  • tell you the approximate pick up time
  • check that the correct type of vehicle has been booked for you.

When will I be collected?

This depends on your postcode; you should be collected to allow enough time for you to arrive before your appointment. Please be ready when transport arrives as drivers cannot wait more than 10 minutes.

What happens when I get to the hospital?

The transport team will ensure you are taken to your appointment.

What happens when I'm ready to go home?

Please let a member of staff know and they will arrange for a porter to take you to the transport lounge at the Royal Free Hospital. If your appointment has taken place at one of our other locations, including Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital, please let the clinic team know, and they will advise the transport team know you are you are ready to go home.

We will try to get you home as soon as we can. However, you may have to wait up to 90 minutes to be collected.

It is important to note that journeys are planned to make the most effective use of our vehicles. This means that other patients may share the same vehicle with you.

Can I have an escort?

We use Department of Health and Social Care guidelines to decide whether an escort is appropriate. We will do this as part of the assessment process.

Cancellations

If your appointment is changed, or you cannot attend your appointment, please ring us as soon as possible on 0333 240 4909 to avoid wasted journeys.

Contact details

Transport assessment team

Telephone: 0333 240 4909 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)

PALS

You can contact PALS using our online form or email using the contact details on this page.

Barnet Hospital or Chase Farm Hospital: 020 8216 4924 or bcfpals@nhs.net

Royal Free Hospital: 020 7472 6446, 020 7472 6447 or rf.pals@nhs.net

Complaints department

For Barnet Hospital or Chase Farm Hospital email rf-tr.bcfcomplaints@nhs.net

For the Royal Free Hospital email rf.complaints@nhs.net.

Contact

Do you have an appointment?

Find your ward

  • Royal Free London

    Contact numbers for patients

    Transport booking line 0333 240 4909 open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (Except bank Holidays)

    Patients who have queries about patient transport or would like to appeal a decision can contact the Royal Free Hospital patient advice and liaison service (PALS) on 020 7472 6446 or 020 7472 6447.