UNDER-FIRE patient transport contractor G4S has promised to make improvements after complaints. Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, told managers from the firm its “poor service” is “not good enough” in a meeting that included the West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
G4S, which ferries West Kent NHS patients to and from hospitals and clinics, has committed to bettering its performance.
Previously a whistleblower told the Times patients were “blatantly lied to” by the contractor, who were also reported to refuse to transport terminally ill patients to and from hospitals.
Mr Clark, who is also Cabinet Member for Business, said: “Patients have been left stranded for hours, often late into the night, in London hospitals and have also sometimes been picked up so late that they have missed vital appointments.
“The people that use the service are often very unwell and it is crucial to their health that they can rely on getting to their medical appointments on time.”
Mr Clark said CCG chiefs admitted to problems with their new contract, which for the first time included journeys to and from London hospitals. “They said that they realised quite quickly that it had been a mistake to include these so the responsibility for journeys to London hospitals has been passed back and priority given to journeys to local NHS appointments.”
The MP also said complaints about the service had been “unanswered” to which they had set up a dedicated complaints team.
He added: “I welcome these steps but I will be keeping a very close eye on how things go over the coming months.
“If anyone experiences any problems with the patient transport service, I would be very grateful if they could let me know.”
The Times reported in August that Tunbridge Wells patient Husnara Begum (pictured), who suffers severe arthritis, was left stranded in a London hospital – only to be told by G4S to ‘sort herself out’.
The CCG were responsible for hiring G4S in December 2015 when the national security firm secured the £90million contract.
In a later report, the CCG found it lacking in all but one area of inspection. They found leadership and responsiveness to warrant the lowest grading of a red warning.
Russell Hobbs, G4S non-emergency patient transport services managing director, said: “We are resolutely committed to patient care and delivering a good service.
“In August we provided 28,681 journeys across Kent and there were 38 formal complaints raised, which represents less than 1 per cent of the total journeys undertaken.”
He added: “We take every single complaint seriously and thoroughly investigate each concern raised. “We continue to work with all clinical commissioning groups in Kent to ensure that together we can provide the resource required to meet the growing demand for this vital service.”