Members to receive a presentation that provides details around the re-procurement of the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service (NEPTS).
Members received a presentation providing details around the re-procurement of the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service (NEPTS)
Joanne McKenna, Head of Contracts and Procurement, LLR CCG introduced the presentation noting that certain details remained commercially sensitive and drew attention to the following points:
· Non-emergency patient transport within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland was currently provided by Thames Ambulance Service Ltd (TASL) providing around 15000 journeys per year. The current contract was due to end in September 22 but was being extended to enable feedback from stakeholders and to fully consider improvements for the new service.
· The new procurement was aimed at bringing services together to improve both quality of service to all patients and flow of patients through the healthcare system.
· Feedback was being sought from patient and service users as well as by provider engagement using a variety of tools e.g., online surveys, patient QAs, and discussions with service referrers; that feedback would be used to support the service specifications and a complete data report would be produced in April 2022.
· Internal stakeholder engagement showed there were good and bad experiences with the current system; generally service users had good relations with the drivers however the downside included long waits for journeys, resources not matching peeks in activity; delays in collecting discharges for time critical patients, patient appointments overrunning and the knock on effect of that on other patient services.
· The new contract would seek to include real-time patient updates to address issues of waiting, journey delay and pick-ups.
· Local guidance was also being developed to improve the user experience taking account of recently reviewed national guidelines.
Members discussed how the service would change; the improvements for patients; increased flexibility and the eligibility criteria as set out in the presentation.
Members noted the transport provision needed to be reflective of patients’ needs and to progress with them. It was hoped that the frictions and issues experienced previously would be reduced through the long mobilisation phase of the procurement process. In terms of service change, it was advised response transport would be wrapped into the system such as Emergency Services as well as Outpatient Services, and providers would have to have special awareness and establish their own patient participation groups to understand the proposals, delivery plans, expectations etc.
Concerns were raised about the eligibility criteria: the lack of information/data in that regard; the uncertainty around patients who had transport initially but not later; and ensuring the eligibility criteria was broad and inclusive.
Members were informed that NHS England and NHS Improvement had established a team to review and help standardise the approach in this area and they had developed updated national eligibility criteria following the published outcome of a review into non-emergency patient transport services (NEPTS). That was consulted upon in Autumn 2021 and the criteria was subject to final stages of development before publication of a final report in Spring 2022. Indicators were that the proposed new criteria were broadly consistent with LLR local eligibility criteria. The patient criteria may change, and a personalised approach could be adopted however the final procurement pack would feature all of these details and should be available by end April 2022.
In relation to the level of journeys commissioned each year, the new contract was bidding for 15,200 journeys but there was also a building in of growth through modelling of tenure of service and it was expected that the biggest area of growth over the period of the contract would be for patients travelling to and from renal dialysis.
In terms of cross border patient journeys, it was advised that the transport provider was responsible for all LLR users no matter where they were going however, it was noted that there were not always reciprocal arrangements in place with other areas.
As regards the procurement exercise, state of market and commercial viability, the CCG couldn’t go into a great level of detail at this stage due to commercial sensitivity, however, sift testing showed that four or five national providers were likely to be interested and it was accepted that recent economic changes, cost of living and fuel increases were likely to be a factor in the process.
Discussion moved on to some of the challenges of transporting patients and how that was addressed. As to the flexibility of transporting patients and being able to cope with sudden changes or patient needs the service were looking to improve booking facilities and introduce online options to provide flexibility.
Regarding the longer term provision of transport for patients and the issue around patients ongoing mobility, the draft eligibility criteria referred to receipt of certain benefits, but the CCG were trying to avoid that being fixed and were looking to build into the service provision to take account of people at the time for a more holistic approach.
Consideration was given to ensuring a patients dignity and discussion progressed into complaints processes noting that patients did come to the CCG to raise complaints e.g., if they felt they had not been treated with dignity and they were supported by the CCG to try and reach a solution. The procurement specification would also build in clinical appeals process which would improve that part of the service too.
As for complaints about service delivery, those could also be sent to the transport provider and there would be an opportunity to raise that externally if a service user was unhappy about the service and/or response from the provider. The Transfer of Care Initiative also gave the opportunity for people to raise concerns at handoffs and through system interface.
In relation to the engagement and feedback processes it was noted that the CCG had reached out to people using online surveys and had run focus groups for anyone to attend, this included young people however, there would be more engagement activity over the next month and the CCG would take back the point to engage with young people more.
The Chair summarised the points made, thanking officers for the presentation and drew discussion to a close.
1. That a copy of the final procurement pack containing eligibility criteria be shared with Members of the Committee as soon as it is available;
2. That the CCG take steps to ensure they involve young people in their processes to capture their voice around service provisions;
3. That the CCG provide Members of the Committee with a flow chart of the decisions being made to help understanding;
4. That an update report providing details of progress with the procurement exercise be brought to the Committee for November 2022.