Patients and carers who use the county's non-urgent patient transport service are being asked for their views on how best to deliver fairer access to the service.
Non-urgent patient transport is funded by the NHS and offered to people who cannot get to their hospital appointment because their medical condition prevents them using conventional transport such as cars, buses or taxis.
This month, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the NHS body responsible for the planning and funding of local health services, is asking service users to complete a survey explaining how they currently use the service and whether the existing criteria could be applied in a fairer way.
National eligibility criteria were first set for transport services in 2007. Since then local variation, interpretation and agreed exclusions have grown up across the south west region.
Somerset CCG, in collaboration with neighbouring counties, hopes to streamline the eligibility criteria in order that it is provided in a fair way for all those who need help getting to hospital appointments.
A spokesperson for Somerset CCG, explained: "Clinical Commissioning Groups across the South West are working collaboratively in order to develop a consistent approach to eligibility for NHS-funded patient transport. Region-wide we spent over £31 million last year providing over 600,000 journeys to take patients to hospital or similar appointments.
"Demand upon local health services is growing. Adopting fairer access criteria for patient transport services could release much needed funds for investment in hospital and community health care.”
Copies of the survey are available from GP Practices, hospitals or online at:
The feedback from the user survey will be considered by Somerset CCG later this year, before determining whether any changes to current eligibility arrangements are required.
Patients, carers and the public are encouraged to return their response to the survey no later than Friday 10 November 2017.
Find out more
Details of the patient transport service and its current eligibility criteria is available from: http://www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/your-health/patient-transport/
Find out more about the patient transport survey and how to get involved