Updates from the health sector

Patient Transport eligibility

People travelling to NHS non-emergency healthcare are normally expected to use their own transport or the range of public, community or voluntary transport available locally.
Some patients may be eligible for NHS-funded patient transport on health grounds if they meet the criteria for support or assistance on or after the journey.

The eligibility criteria for NHS funded patient transport provides everything you need to know about the eligibility criteria as well as advice if your patient doesn’t meet it. Click here to download the PDF.

If there is an urgent escalation of care, such as a person needs to be transferred from their home to a community hospital at short notice, request a South Western Ambulance Trust ambulance (not 999 but lower category).

  • Do not use non-emergency patients transport.
  • Do not request the new car service, currently being trialled, which is specifically for patients being transferred to Treliske hospital.

For planned (at least the day before) transfers from home to community hospitals, use non-emergency transport and ask the patient to book using the process in the guidance or calling 01872 252211.



The new NHS app, which is intended to be a ‘front door’ to the NHS for patients, is to be less ‘all singing, all dancing’ according to the new NHSX Chief Executive, Michael Gould, who will be responsible for it. At present, the plan is to have all GP surgeries connected via the app by the end of July, but Gould says that there will be no new features added. His comments are reported in the HSJ journal for healthcare leaders.

At present the NHS App can be used to:

  • check your symptoms
  • find out what to do when you need help urgently

When your GP surgery is connected, you can also use it to:

  • book and manage appointments at your GP surgery
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • securely view your GP medical record
  • register to be an organ donor
  • choose how the NHS uses your data

You can find out more about the app on the NHS website.

Obesity is ‘the new smoking’

The new head of NHS England has warned that cancers caused by obesity are likely to double in the next two decades, with obesity currently already the second greatest cause of cancer after smoking.

Find out more in an iNews article.


Antidepressant withdrawal should be handled differently

Patients suffering severe symptoms when they come off antidepressants too quickly need more help and support, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says. National guidelines are currently being updated, and the NCP recommends that they include information about a range of experiences of people coming off antidepressants.  Find out more on the BBC website.


Stroke  deaths halved

Recent research has shown that stroke deaths have halved in England in the last decade.  Older people, who have been targeted with blood pressure control, have experienced far fewer strokes, but obesity and type 2 diabetes are causing more strokes in those under 55.

The focus has to be on prevention, according to report authors, with more work needed to reduce levels of obesity, now that there is greater awareness of smoking and high salt intake as risk factors.

See the Guardian article for more details.


‘Big pharma’ funding patient groups

Concerns have been raised that ‘Big Pharma’, the big players in the global pharmaceutical industry, may be ‘shaping the profiles of patient organisations through heavy investment’. In an article in the Independent, an investigation shows that donations have risen in both quantity and value in recent years.  UK patient groups receive funding from the companies, often campaigning for access to treatments or drugs which are being marketed by the drug companies which are providing the funding.  New drugs may provide incremental benefits, but command a much higher price tag, in areas such as diabetes, blood and breast cancers, and HIV.


Air pollution damaging to health

A new report has shown that poor air quality has the potential to cause damage in virtually every part of the human body, with effects ranging through dementia, heart and lung disease, fertility problems, liver problems, brittle bones and damaged skin.  This follows the World Health Organisation’s inclusion of poor air quality on their recent list of factors contributing to a ‘public health emergency’.

See a more detailed review in the Guardian.