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No ambulance, so patient had to miss surgery

Hospital reviews private firm’s contract after disabled woman's transport ordeal

22 September, 2017 — By Tom Foot

A DISABLED woman who missed surgery after a patient transport service run by a private security firm failed to turn up challenged hospital chiefs at a board meeting this week.

Former civil servant Ann Devine, who lives in Highbury, said controversial security firm G4S was failing patients at University College London Hospitals.

The NHS trust’s chief executive has said he is disappointed with G4S following a surge in patient complaints and has put the current contract under review.

Ms Devine has called for public consultation on whether the transport service should be brought back in-house.

She said: “I missed my surgery because G4S did not turn up – the ambulance simply did not arrive.

“When I called them, 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 was awarded a contract last November to run transport for non-emergency patients.

Nationally, it runs the Brook House immigration detention centre at Heathrow, criticised in a Panorama exposé this month which revealed abuse of migrants by its staff.

A job advert for a UCLH “ambulance assistant” gives the hourly rate as £8.40.

UCLH chief executive Professor Marcel Levi said in a statement to the board this month: “There continue to be complaints about the service. The majority of these are about long waiting times.”

A UCLH spokesperson said: “We acknowledge there have been difficulties with the transport service G4S provides to patients 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 that meets the needs of our patients. If patients have any concerns, please get in touch with us.”

G4S transport services managing director 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.

“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.”

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