How we helped one elderly patient regain access to hospital transport services

Islington patient with long term health conditions makes good use of our information and signposting service.
elderly lady travelling on the bus
You put me to the right person, I wouldn't have been able to get this far without your support. Thank you very much, I am very pleased.

Mary lives in the south of the borough. She's in her eighties and relies on a mobility scooter to get around. Mary has a number of long term health conditions. She travels to the Royal Free Hospital for specialist care once a month. She used to get hospital transport for this, but in May 2018 she was told she was no longer entitled to it.

Mary needs to be at the hospital by 9 in the morning, as her medication is delivered intravenously over the course of five hours. She had to get two buses, meaning it was taking over an hour to get to the hospital. She was getting very tired, and as the year drew on and it got darker, she found it quite stressful to use public transport. She tripped over on a couple of occasions whilst making the journey to the hospital. Mary spoke to the patient advice and liaison service (PALS) at the hospital to see if she could receive hospital transport again. She was told that there was nothing they could do, so Mary contacted Healthwatch to see if we could help.

What did Healthwatch do?

  • We spoke to another member of staff in PALS and got a fresh perspective on the problem. Since Mary’s last assessment had been over three months ago, we let her know that she was entitled to contact the hospital transport service and get a reassessment by telephone.
  • After the reassessment, the decision was initially taken to refuse Mary access to the hospital transport service. Mary was asked to provide a report from her doctor to show that she was unable to use public transport.
  • We worked with PALS at the Royal Free to secure a good outcome for Mary. When the GP was taking a long time to send the report to the hospital, Healthwatch contacted the practice to hurry the process up.
  • Once the GP report was received, the assessment decision was reversed. Mary was given access to hospital transport again.

Mary's name has been changed.

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