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Guest post: Sick of waiting

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This is a guest blog post from Transport For All, who write about their Sick of Waiting campaign. 

Patient transport isn’t working for patients.

Patients missing their hospital appointments… because of patient transport.

Patients waiting several hours to be taken home after their appointment… because of patient transport.

Patients unable to use buses or trains… deemed ineligible for patient transport.

These are just a few of the reports we’ve heard from people who’ve been let down by hospital transport. 

And frankly, when you’re living with cancer, transport hassle is the last thing you want to worry about.

Sick of Waiting is the campaign for reliable, accessible patient transport for everyone who needs it. The way that patient transport is commissioned has recently changed, with Clinical Commissioning Groups holding more power. So there’s never been a better time to tell hospital trusts that they must guarantee that patient transport works for patients.

Patient transport is often contracted out to private companies such as G4S, MPS and DHL. But with big discrepancies between transport in different hospitals, we need common standards to ensure all trusts provide a quality service.

Minimum standards in contracting

We’ve joined up with the National Kidney Federation (NKF), Age UK London, The Greater London Forum for Older People, Healthwatch Newham and London Region National Pensioners Convention. We want to see minimum standards on things like waiting time and eligibility criteria written into patient transport contracts. We want to ensure that hospital Trusts have the power to hold to account the private companies who deliver patient transport.

But we can’t do it without you.

We want to hear your stories of patient transport. 

  • Have you or a relative or friend used patient transport in the last year?
  • How did you find it? How long did you have to wait to be picked up? How was the driver and the discharge lounge?

Good or bad, we would like your reports of patient transport. We will use this evidence to help convince Trusts that patient transport contracts must put patients’ needs first. Please answer our very short survey. You can fill it in online here, and find out more about the campaign as it develops on the Transport for All website:

You can also phone us, on 020 7737 2339, and answer the questions over the phone. If you are part of a group of older people, we could post you some surveys to hand out.

We’ll be having an Accountability Assembly in London in October, where we’ll present our Patient Transport Charter. We haven’t set a date yet, but if you register your details on completion of the survey, we’ll send you an invite

  • My husband and I have used the PTS on two occassions only.  The first one, the driver turned up with about thirty minutes before his appointment. He then took us around the country lanes with all the potholes and bumps that he could find!!! We were told to be ready for up to two hours before our appointment time. so, we were up early and were ready for a least an hour and a half.  In the end I had to phone up and check whether the driver was still coming for us. We were told that he was picking up another couple nearby and would be with us within the next ten minutes.  So, my husband was sick on the journey, having been shook up with the ambulance journey.  Good job we had a sick bowel with us.  Not very nice for the other couple sitting opposite tho. Then, after his radiotherapy was over at 11.20am, PTS was booked again for our return journey. At 1.15pm, I had to go and ask at reception when the PTS would arrive for us. It was a warm sunny day, so, we were able to sit outside. At about 1.30pm, a Taxi arrived to take us home. He went the A34 A500 route home, and John was Ok and not sick this time. The second time with PTS, a lovely lady called Bridget, came for us in a car!  This time she was about half an hour too early, but, she took us anyway.  She also came in with us when we got there.  She told them that she could wait if John was seen sooner than his allotted time.  As soon as the doors were open, we went through, John was taken in after a few minutes, and Bridget took us home.  We actually got back hom a few minutes before we should have been setting off!! All the other trips to North Staffs have been done for us by a team of volunteer drivers from a local charity here in Crewe, and to be honest, I would rate them 11 out of 10 every time. I would only use the PTS again if the voluteers cannot for whatever reasons, cannot provide drivers.
  • Thanks for this memango! Shows both ends of the spectrum of patient transport. On the one hand, some of the drivers are helpful, professional, friendly and all goes smoothly. But as with your first experience - sometimes its appalling! And its these incidents that convince us that ALL hospitals need to put minimum standards in their contracts.
  • Hi. We live in Sevenoaks, Kent and use PT to get my disabled partner Mimi to her appointments at Guys and Tommy's. We are told to be ready 3hrs before the appointment time for collection. They mainly use a Co, called Savoy Venturers and they are **** ! Once they arrived at 13.15 for a 14.00hrs appointment then had to do another pick up, meaning she arrived over 1 3/4hrs late for her chemo session, another time ( due to her spinal problems she has to have a front seat ) the front seat was double booked ( the driver told us he had informed them of this ) we had to turn the car away as the the person in in front seat refused to give it up, that day she had chemo in the morning and a meeting with her surgeon in the afternoon, again she arrived hours late for the chemo and by the time it was finnished she had missed her appointment with the surgeon ! This week they did not have me down as her escort, not the first time, ( Iv caught a train and met her up there ) by sheer luck this time we were the only passengers so they took me as well. As for going home only once in around 10 appointments have we been picked up in under an hour , most times its anything up to 3hrs.  Simon Jackson (gingercat ), 
  • Hi Simon Really shocked to read this - Mimi having to miss her appointment; and being so late for chemo, is terrible. When did this happen? Is this something which you'd like us to take up with GSTT? Do phone or email if so; you can reach us at jessica at We would really like to use your story to help push for minimum standards in patient transport contracts. Thanks.