THREE GP surgeries are saving at least £40,000 a year by offering patients free lifts.
A scheme to transport patients in rural areas of the Holme Valley was introduced at Honley Surgery three years ago in a bid to combat the growing number of home visits that GPs were doing each day.
Now, after teaming up with two other practices in the area, the patient transport scheme - the first in the country - is improving healthcare and saving surgery time, says Honley's practice development manager, Helen Kitching.
She said: "One of the reasons we looked into this was because of the increasing number of home visits.
"Our doctors were finding it was not because patients were too ill to travel, but did not have the means to get to the surgery.
"Now only very poorly people need a home visit. It is much easier for patients to be seen in a clinical setting.
"Patient care has improved too, because they are getting a better service," she added.
Attendance at chronic disease clinics, for illnesses including diabetes and coronary heart disease, has also increased at the practice at Marsh Gardens, Honley.
The scheme - which joined forces with Dr Jennison and Partners, and Dr Clayden and Partners at Elmwood Health Centre, Holmfirth - collects 100 patients a week from a 30 square mile area stretching from Newsome to Shelley and Crow Edge.
Mrs Kitching said: "Those are the patients who would have had home visits.
"So, instead of doing about 40 visits a week, our doctors would have been doing almost 150."
The vehicle used, a seven-seater Seat Alabro, was at first paid for by a grant from the Countryside Agency.
Now, cash support from South Huddersfield Primary Care Trust is being sought to keep the £30,000-a- year service running.