‘Long waits’ complaints force review of hospital transport
Call to end private contract and bring service back in-house
22 September, 2017 — By Tom Foot
HOSPITAL bosses have put a patient transport contract with a private security firm “under review” following a surge in complaints.
In his report to this month’s board meeting, University College London Hospitals chief executive Professor Marcel Levi said he was “disappointed” that G4S had not improved its service, despite warnings from directors earlier in the year. Professor Levi added: “With G4S we are reviewing the current contract… There continue to be complaints about the service, the majority of these are about long waiting times.”
A job advert for a UCLH “ambulance assistant” gives the hourly rate the company pays as £8.40.
Former civil servant Ann Devine, a disabled patient of the hospital, missed her surgery appointment in July because G4S transport did not turn up. Ms Devine, who struggled to this month’s board meeting to complain about the service, said there should be public consultation on whether the transport service should be brought back in-house.
She added: “I missed my surgery because G4S did not turn up – the ambulance simply did not arrive. When I called, they said it was the GPs who had not understood the system properly. It [the contract] is just about saving money – the bottom line is the bottom line here. As a disabled patient, I am very worried about this. I rely on the transport a lot – and past and recent press reports about how G4S treats staff and clients are very alarming.”
G4S managing director of transport services Russell Hobbs said: “We are resolutely committed to patient care and delivering a good service to all those who use our non-emergency patient transport service at UCLH. When the level of service provided is not good enough, we always apologise, deal with any issues and seek to improve the service. We are improving the way we deal with complaints and have put in processes to ensure we monitor journeys, have dedicated points of contact and proactively manage future appointments where we are aware there has been a problem.”
A UCLH spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that there have been difficulties with the transport service G4S provides to our patients at UCLH and are working with them to improve the service. This will include a revised contract. “We are committed to providing a safe and effective transport service. If patients have any concerns, please get in touch with us.”