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Provision of patient transport services across Scotland

The Patient Transport Service (PTS) provides transport throughout Scotland, employing 900 staff and a fleet of 500 vehicles to deliver 2 million journeys every year. The study developed a decision support tool PTARMIGAN (Patient Transport Allocation of Resources Model Incorporating Geographical Analysis) to help identify more appropriate distributions of resources across Scotland. A particular challenge was the need to demonstrate equity of resource provision across geographically diverse regions, spanning both urban and remote and rural areas. The model has been delivered to the Scottish Ambulance Headquarters and is used regularly to review resource allocation and explore the resource implications of changing demand and policy.

PTARMIGAN incorporates a series of sub-models, pared to their simplest form to provide vital transparency, flexibility and speed. The sub-models were verified in comparisons with more rigorous sophisticated approaches, notably a Dial-a-Ride genetic algorithm and an open vehicle routing simulation. This study illustrates how simple and sophisticated models can complement each other, producing a decision support tool that exploits their different qualities.


Bowers J, Lyons B, Mould G (forthcoming). Developing a resource allocation model for the Scottish Patient Transport Service, Operations Research for Health Care doi:10.1016/j.orhc.2012.10.002

For further information please contact John Bowers.

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