Service users praise free transport support offer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

July 20, 2023

Help with transport costs to outpatient appointments provided by Birmingham Children’s Hospital has improved the experience of patients and their families travelling for care, according to our new report. In particular, free bus, train and parking tickets or taxis reduced stress and anxiety around the costs of travel for those on low incomes and/or who attend frequent appointments.

Read the full report

The survey of 519 people who have used free transport support since the scheme was established by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust (BWC) in January 2022 found that:

  • 86% rated it as ‘excellent’ overall
  • 86% felt the transport support offer was clearly explained
  • 81% agreed that they were involved in deciding on the transport required
  • 87% said their needs were met
  • 64% said the free transport offer made their journey more affordable

Although a few participants had experienced problems such as delays to ticket delivery or issues around communication, the majority highly valued the scheme, were keen for it to continue and would like more people to be made aware of it. As one service user commented ‘I am so grateful for this service as it has changed my life. There are struggling families who are in need of help like this, so this service is fantastic and so helpful.’

Healthwatch Birmingham would also like to see BWC build on the impact outlined in our report. ‘We commend BWC on the success of the free transport scheme so far,’ said Richard Burden, Chair of Healthwatch Birmingham. ‘Many of the financial barriers to attending hospital appointments, such as the price of public transport and parking, have been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Free transport support not only provides practical help for individual patients, it also demonstrates BWC’s commitment to reducing health inequalities across the whole community. We now call on the Trust to increase access to free travel support and refine the offer so even more children and their families/carers can benefit from this important improvement to their care services.’

Responding to the report, Mark Hillier, Senior Patient Experience Manager at BWC, said ‘We are very grateful to Healthwatch Birmingham, who carried out this in-depth study. Whilst we knew that patients and families appreciated the support, we needed to know how it could be most effective and which methods of giving support were particularly helpful. Our future work includes working to increase awareness of the national Hospital Travel Costs Scheme and working with the local bus and train companies to make travel cheaper and easier to our hospitals. This report will help us to target any future funding, where we are able to offer further transport related subsidies.’

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