DISADVANTAGED children are being offered transport to help get to hospital appointments and get the care they need.
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BWC) is testing ways to help children living in areas of high deprivation to attend appointments that would otherwise be missed, by talking to families and offering help with transport.
The eight-week pilot saw a reduction in the number of children who were not brought to appointments and freed up appointments for children on waiting lists.
Around 90 per cent of patients took up the offer of help with travel and another 140 appointments that were reallocated.
Kerri Pointon, mum to Travis, who took up the scheme, said: “The initiative is absolutely great, and well needed at the moment.
“It really helps when you pay for the travel up front as some families just can’t afford to claim the money back afterwards.
“The team who arranged this for us were lovely, and did everything they could to help.”
Caring for women, children and families from Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond, BWC provides inpatient and community services across a range of specialties.
A short research project found that the average cost for a family to attend medical appointments is over £35, which the Trust says can create barriers to accessing services, particularly for those experiencing financial hardship.
Families of children with appointments were contacted and asked about any challenges that may prevent them attending and to support families a tailored transport support offer was developed to include free parking at the hospital site, public transport tickets, and taxi services if needed.
The pilot was staffed thanks to over-time hours by existing administration staff, with some support from the staff bank.
It was funded from money available to the trust as a paediatric accelerator site and realised significant cost savings due to the reduction in the number of missed appointments.
Ally Davies, assistant director of quality improvement, said: “Despite this being a very short pilot, it was fantastic to see that the were not brought rate for families who were contacted was almost half that of families living in the most deprived areas who were not spoken to.”
“We were incredibly fortunate to have been supported by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust who were testing something similar at the same time. As such we have been able to share and spread learning to iterate our work as we go.
“We hope to embed this within the children’s service with a view to extending this across our women’s and mental health services.”