A COMPANY responsible for hospital patients missing appointments and waiting hours to be taken home has been slated in a new report.
NSL Care Services took over all non-emergency patient transport in Kent in July last year but the service has been beset with problems.
News Shopper has reported on cases of patients kept waiting for up to 25 hours to be taken home after hospital visits.
Now health watchdog the Care Quality Commission has published its findings from a surprise inspection of the firm in November.
NSL failed to meet four out of the five national standards of quality and safety which CQC looked into and formal warnings were issued in two areas relating to the vetting of workers and how the quality of service is monitored.
Jackie Griffiths (right) with mum Joan Moss.
None of this surprises Jackie Griffiths, 65, whose 92-year-old mother Joan Moss appeared in the News Shopper after missing an important audiology appointment at Gravesham Community Hospital on December 17 because her transport only arrived at her home in St George’s Road, Swanley, 40 minutes after it was due to start.
A replacement date was booked for today – and this time an ambulance arrived at 2pm to take the grandmother-of-two to her 3pm session.
Mrs Griffiths said: "My mother’s quite happy but I think they monitored it closely this time.
"This is not helping the little old ladies in sheltered housing who haven’t got anyone to shout for them so I think it still needs investigating.
"If they are failing all these people it’s pretty dire. I think there is something wrong when they are commissioning these groups without seeing whether they can meet the criteria.
"I’m also trying to make sure it’s all ok by the time I get to that age."
NSL say additional vehicles and 75 extra staff have been taken on since November while a designated colleague phone line has been established to improve communications between crews and its control centre in Aylesford.
Chief ambulance officer Wayne Spedding said: "We are extremely sorry we fell short on meeting these essential standards set by the CQC. "We recognise and acknowledge this is a serious compliance failure on our part and that our learning from this failure is vital.
"We have been open in fully acknowledging the difficulties encountered, which has led to some patients being collected late or not at all, and are pleased to say this has improved.
"We would like to assure our patients and colleagues we are continuing to address these issues and we are confident of meeting all the standards in the shortest possible time."
Read News Shopper's stories on NSL here.