Charity fears national precedent if CCG axes free transport services

A charity has warned a dangerous precedent may be set if a clinical commissioning group enforces its decision to stop funding non-emergency patient transport to people who rely on “life sustaining” treatment.

In June, Kernow CCG, which is forecasting a £37m deficit this year, decided that patients who frequently travel to hospital should no longer have their transport paid for by the NHS unless they are eligible through medical or financial criteria.

The charity is worried that some patients will not be able to attend dialysis treatment

The charity, Kidney Care UK, told HSJ it is “deeply concerned” because the decision affects renal patients who depend on dialysis treatment several times a week.

Patients who suffer kidney failure die if they are not given dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Fiona Loud, the charity’s policy director, said access to dialysis should not be assessed on a person’s ability to pay.

The CCG said its decision will make assessment for non-emergency patient transport services fairer for everyone across Cornwall, but it has agreed to pause implementation for four weeks while leaders meet with the charity.

Previously some groups of patients, including those accessing dialysis, have not required an assessment to check their eligibility for NHS funded transport to hospital – and had funding regardless of whether or not they were eligible under Department of Health guidance.

Full story in The HSJ, 4 October 2017