Escorts for Patients

Patient Information

Some patients will have to travel out-with Shetland to receive their medical care in hospital. For some patients, it will be necessary for them to be accompanied by an escort on this journey.

To apply for a medical escort please complete the following form: Application for a Patient's Medical Escort (Microsoft Word format). Completed forms should be e-mailed / sent to your GP Practice.

This guidance is issued by Shetland NHS Board to provide information about all patient escorts paid for under the Highlands and Islands Travel Scheme.

What is an escort?
An escort has travel costs paid (by the Highlands & Islands Travel Scheme) to accompany a patient who needs support to ensure the safe completion of the journey to or from hospital.

Who can be an escort?
The patient can nominate an escort who can be a family member, carer or friend. Escorts must be 18 or over and be able to provide the necessary assistance and support needed by the patient.

When can a patient have an escort?
All patients aged 16 and below automatically qualify for an escort. From 16-18 the patient can choose to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is no need for an authorisation form.

Patients who require a high level of assistance with personal care or have severely restricted mobility are entitled to an escort. If the patient receives higher level Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or enhanced Personal Independence Payment (PIP) there is no need for an escort form but the patient must provide a current award letter to Patient Travel.

In all other cases the criterion for authorising an escort is that it should be medically necessary for the patient to be escorted.

Examples of who can have an escort are:

  • patients who have difficulty communicating without assistance. (Interpretation services are provided for patients whose first language is not English);
  • patients who are unable to make informed decisions about their treatment plans;
  • patients who have severely restricted vision.

The following are taken into be taken into account when deciding to allow an escort:

  1. Is it necessary that the patient be accompanied on the journey?
    The criteria call for there to be a necessity to be accompanied, not merely that it is desirable to be accompanied.
  2. Is the necessity of a medical nature?
    Social or emotional grounds are not sufficient to fulfil the criteria. For example an escort will not be authorised for birth partners to be present at the birth of a child unless the patient satisfies one of the categories stated above.
  3. Is the medical necessity only for the safe completion of the journey?
    If a patient is medically fit to complete the journey unescorted, an escort will not be authorised to allow a relative to be present unless the patient satisfies one of the categories stated above.

What is the role of the GP/Consultant?
Your GP/consultant will usually be the person referring you/family member/relative to hospital and will help decide whether an escort is necessary. If you do not fall within any of the defined criteria but your GP/clinician feels you require an escort the GP/clinician can send a request to the review group.

What is the review group?
The review group is made up of the Executive Management Team and includes senior clinicians. Requests are reviewed by the group in person 3 times a week but there is also a mechanism for requests to be reviewed within 3 hours where time is of the essence.

Does the review group get access to my medical records?
No. The requests sent to the review group do not contain the patients’ personal details and are therefore considered anonymously. Only the medical information pertinent to the request for an escort is disclosed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If a patient has previously had an escort, will an escort always be approved?
    No, each individual case will be dealt with in line with the criteria. Authorisation of an escort for a patient on one return journey does not lead to the automatic authorisation of an escort for any following journeys.

    Normally a new application for an escort will need to be made for each appointment, however, in a small number of cases where it is clear the need for an escort will be long term, the review group will agree to a long term need for an escort and this will be reviewed on an annual basis.

  • If an escort is not authorised what are my options?
    You can request that the Medical Director reviews the decision to refuse an escort. You can also lodge a complaint about a decision using the complaints procedure. More information can be found on our website.

  • If I want someone to accompany me but do not qualify for an escort what are my options?
    If you want someone to travel with you and are medically fit to travel by ferry someone can be added to your booking at minimal cost. You will be responsible for contacting Northlink to arrange and pay for the additional passenger fare.

    If you are being admitted to hospital your family may qualify for a Hospital Visitor Fare. More information is available from Patient Travel.

There is a Hospital Discharge Liaison Nurse for Orkney and Shetland who can advise or be contacted for support via Patient Travel on 01595 743305 or Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on 01224 554352.

Useful Links

© NHS Shetland 2015