As you or may or not be aware TASL is the new provider of Non-Emergency Patient Transport in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) as from the 1 October 2017 and below is an update  about their progress to date. 

A month into the new service we can confirm that the majority of patients who require the service are being safely transported and cared for successfully. TASL continue to work closely with all local health providers to do everything possible to ensure that problems are resolved as quickly as possible. However, we are still in a position where some patients are not receiving the high quality service that we expect.

TASL, working closely with the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Urgent and Emergency Care Team, have developed a detailed recovery action plan to address the issues that are causing delays to transport and poor patient experience.  In particular, they have changed their operating model and will establish a localised contact centre specifically to support patients in LLR. It is expected that this significant change, which will come into effect early in November, will take the pressure off the shared contact centre in Lincoln and most importantly ensure that calls are answered and responded to in a timely way.  In addition, managing discharge transport will be devolved to hospitals and to help with planning and dispatching of transport Patient Discharge Coordinators are now located in Leicester Royal Infirmary.

In the meantime waiting times for answering calls is closely monitored and additional staff have been employed in the control centre to manage calls.

One of the key issues affecting the service has been difficulties experienced by hospital staff in working with the TASL online booking system called Healthcab.  TASL have put in place a number of changes to allow appropriate staff at hospitals in LLR to be able to access all booking information relating to patients and to enable hospital staff more flexibility to amend and cancel bookings.  It is anticipated that further training will be required to support hospital staff to become familiar with the new system and use it more effectively.

A priority telephone line and control centre is being established for the most vulnerable patients including renal and oncology patients.  Recognising the importance of relationships with regular patients, TASL will also have drivers who are dedicated to transporting renal patients to and from appointments.

Work is ongoing to ensure that the eligibility criteria – the way of assessing who is entitled to non-emergency patient transport, is being applied correctly and that no eligible patients are disadvantaged.  The CCG Urgent Care Team will be issuing further guidance to TASL and hospital staff to support them in using the eligibility questions appropriately.

The high levels of absenteeism among drivers in the first week of the contract are no longer being experienced and staff levels have stabilised at almost full establishment.  TASL are still continuing to recruit and train new staff to ensure that capacity and capabilities of their drivers remains consistent. For a temporary period crews from third party providers have supported TASL crews and TASL will continue to work with third party crews where necessary to deliver a timely service.   

TASL have continued undertaking engagement work in LLR and have attended meetings of the Boards of both Healthwatch Leicester and Healthwatch Leicestershire and are schedule to attend the Healthwatch Rutland Board in November.  These have proved valuable in developing a close relationship with the local health watchdogs and reducing any negative impact on patients and develop solutions to emerging issues. 

It is recognised that improvements are still required to get the  high quality service that we all want for patients, but everyone across the health system remains committed to working together to reach this goal.