Most district general hospital (DGH) paediatricians will have referred critically ill children to a retrieval team at some point in their practice. Inter-hospital transport services have developed in response to ongoing centralisation of specialist services such as intensive care, with the aim of ensuring safe transport of sick children to tertiary centres. In many parts of the UK, retrievals are undertaken by staff despatched from the receiving intensive care unit (ICU), although dedicated regional transport teams, similar to those in North America and Australia, have also evolved recently for neonatal and paediatric transfers.
This review aims to describe potential measures by which the performance of inter-hospital transport services can be assessed. The strengths and limitations of a number of performance indicators are discussed, and an overview of the future of quality measurement in this field is provided.