Hospital transport service leaves patients stranded
email@example.com Dozens of elderly and infirm patients in the Kentish Express area were left stranded because of the “unacceptable” failure of an outsourced hospital transport service, health bosses have admitted.
Some were not collected from their homes at all, forcing them to miss vital appointments, while others arrived hours late and had long waits for their return journeys.
The problems started when the service was taken over by an outside contractor on July 1.
Now East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Stuart Bain has apologised to patients for the delays, blaming teething problems with the new system.
He said: “Patients have experienced unacceptable delays in transport to and from hospital for appointments and treatment.”
There has also been an apology from the transport provider, NSL Care Services, which has taken on the contract for hospitals in Kent and Medway.
The NSL contact centre, which coordinates the booking of patient transport, struggled to handle the number of calls coming in.
Mr Bain said: “Along with the other NHS trusts in Kent, the clinical commissioning groups and NSL, the trust is working to find a long-term, sustainable solution.
“We have been assured that more staff are being brought in and that the call burden is now being split between two of NSL’s contact centres.”
NSL managing director Alastair Cooper says the company is “deeply sorry” for letting patients down in an “unacceptable” first week, but promised improvements.
He said: “Unforeseen challenges during the transition phase of this large contract resulted in us providing an unsatisfactory service to some of our patients in Kent.
“We are deeply sorry to those patients we let down by failing to pick them up on time, or in a few cases, at all.
“As soon as it became clear that there were problems, we started work with commissioners and trusts to improve the service.
“We immediately commissioned significant additional resources, including vehicles, crew and call-centre staff to rectify these failures.”
He added: “All of this has led to a considerable improvement. We are confident that our patients in Kent will experience the same high standards that we deliver elsewhere.” An Ashford pasty shop is hoping someone in the town can come up with the next great pasty recipe suggestion.
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Trust chief executive Stuart Bain