Hos­pi­tal trans­port ser­vice leaves pa­tients stranded

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Business Update - By Gerry War­ren

gwar­ren@thek­m­group.co.uk 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.

Pasty Presto, win­ner of this year’s World Pasty Cham­pi­onships, and which has a branch at the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let in Kim­ber­ley Way, is look­ing for the next world cham­pion pasty.

Food fans are in­vited to use their creative flair to sub­mit their ideas.

The win­ning recipe will go into pro­duc­tion at Pasty Presto’s kitchens in Corn­wall, be sold in its stores, and en­tered into the next World Pasty Cham­pi­onships in March 2014.

Sub­mit pasty recipes on­line at pastypresto.com by Septem­ber 30.

Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art Bain

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