Northern Ireland Ambulance Service provides non-emergency patient transport services across the province. This enables patients, usually vulnerable and dependent upon us, to get to routine appointments at hospitals and treatment centres throughout Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service provides transport for patients:
- Attending outpatient appointments at hospital
- Requiring investigation or treatment at hospital
- Being admitted to hospital
- Being transferred between hospitals
- Being discharged from hospital.
This service is not available to everyone attending appointments; there must be a medical need for transport. This reason could be that you are immobile and unable to utilise public transport, or as a result of your treatment. This medical necessity will need to be confirmed by a physician stating that your condition is so severe that you are unfit to travel by other means.
If you think you may require ambulance transport to take you to hospital, please contact your Doctor once you have received your appointment. Your Doctor will then assess your medical need and decide if you require ambulance transport.
No bookings will be taken directly from patients by NIAS. Requests must always come from a Doctor confirming that you have a medical need for transport. Your GP will book your first appointment and any others booked within 3 months will be booked by the hospital Consultant you are attending for treatment.
NIAS needs as much information as possible when a request is made; therefore it is important that you give your Doctor all of the information you can. This information is important to ensure that the correct vehicle type is allocated and that ambulance staff are made aware of any medical conditions (e.g. diabetes). This ensures that you receive the highest level and standard of care from us.
When to Request Transport
All requests for non-emergency transport must be made with NIAS at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment. You must, therefore, contact your Doctor before that, and preferably as early as possible. Late requests cannot always be accommodated by NIAS as space is filled quickly and future planning is of utmost importance.
NIAS have structured times that we can take patients to hospital. These times are normally:
10:00 – 12:00 hrs
13:30 – 14:30 hrs
Hospitals are all aware of these times and will assist you if necessary. If you need a follow-up appointment you should request transport at the same time. Doing this ensures that the appointment is at an appropriate time for the Ambulance Service. Please give all of the relevant information to hospital staff as your Doctor does not provide the information needed by NIAS to the hospital.
Who Can You Travel With?
At NIAS we understand that patients often find visits to hospital difficult and may need someone to escort them. However, we can only allow escorts to travel with those patients who medically require them. Seats are very limited in our ambulances and we may not be able to accommodate unplanned escorts, sometimes causing a delay.
Children under 16 years old are legally required to be accompanied by an adult. Unfortunately, due to limited space, we are not always able to accommodate other children. Please make arrangements to have other children cared for whilst you are at hospital.
Car seats are available for younger children. When booking with your Doctor, please ensure that you inform them whether you will be bringing your own car seat or if you require us to provide one.
Keep Us Informed
It is important that we receive as much information from your Doctor as possible. We have many different types of vehicle available to transport patients and which one you receive depends on this information. It is important that we know:
- If you are confined to a wheelchair
- If an escort is necessary
- If you require Oxygen
- If you need to lie down
- If you have a plaster cast
- If you have any infectious conditions
- If your appointment is longer than 1 hour (so we can plan a return journey).
Ambulance Care Attendants work to very strict timeframes and you should arrange to meet them following your appointment
Please, do not deviate from the plan, if you require refreshments or are sent to another part of the hospital, please ensure that Ambulance Control are then able to inform the Ambulance Care Attendant.
Ambulance Care Attendants are not able to search the hospital looking for patients. You may not be the only patient in the vehicle and so you could be left behind if you do not inform someone to a change in plan. Providing another vehicle for you to return home may be very difficult at this stage.
There is increasing concern throughout the Health Service over those patients who do not keep appointments. This concern is also true for patient transport. Please inform us as soon as possible if you are unable to travel so that seats can be reallocated to other patients who require them.
The contact telephone number for all of Northern Ireland is 028 7134 7134.
When you dial, a recorded message will play, please press Option 1 for Day Control and Option 2 for Future Bookings.
The Trust’s opening hours for dealing with Patient Transport issues are:
- Day Control
- Mon – Fri 07:00 – 21:00 hrs
- Sat – Sun 08:00 – 20:00 hrs
- Future Planning 08:30 – 16:30 hrs