Attempts to avoid a “computer says no” situation over NHS patient transport, meeting hears

Photo: Graham Richardson.

NHS bosses accused of failing some of the most needy patients in a cost-cutting clampdown on transport to hospital appointments say they have strived to avoid a “computer says no” situation.

John Darley, of Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG), told North Yorkshire’s scrutiny of health committee the introduction of national eligibility guidelines for patient transport was “all about the quality of the service we want to deliver”.

Mr Darley was appearing before the committee following a motion by Councillor John Blackie calling on CCGs to fund necessary patient transport services and recognise cutbacks in the service has caused anxiety across the county.

Cllr Blackie told members seriously ill people who had been unjustly refused transport under the new regime had faced a “Spanish Inquisition-style” interrogation as they attempted to get transport to a hospital clinic.

Mr Darley said implementing the national criteria was designed to account for distances patients faced travelling to clinics and the appeals process ensured transport for those who were seriously ill or had no alternative.

Responding to criticism that patients had been denied transport due to an algorithm, Mr Darley said: “We did not want ‘the computer says no, end of’.”

He said: “We want to provide a service that is as equitable and fair as possible, it doesn’t matter whether you live in Hawes or Northallerton.”

After the meeting, the committee’s chairman, Councillor Jim Clark, said it was not acceptable that residents were not able to rely on patient transport in areas stretching from the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate to the North York Moors and Ryedale.

He said the committee would call on the council to press CCGs to implement a series of changes to the patient transport process, including taking more consideration of patients’ travelling distances and a simpler and better publicised appeals process.


  1. PTS is suppose to be there for patients that have outpatient appointment or been discharged it should not be picking and choosing who can and who can’t have the transport. Public resbsport in North Yorkshire does not make it possible to use especially if your from the villages around north Yorkshire all these patients are going to hospital because they are ill and nitjyst for a lift the ambulance service should be a shamed of themselves

  2. PTS is a service for patients that have appointment at hospitals and therefore there should be no screen to say who can and who can’t have the transport especially when the live in the villages out towards hawed and teeth where the public transport either doesn’t exist or would not get them to the hospital on time and would need to get at least 3 buses to get to the hospital. These patients are ill other wise they wouldn’t need to go to hospital. The ambulance service should be a shamed of themselves for cutting this service back

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