New patient transport service sees rise in complaints to NHS Lincolnshire
A new patient transport service has led to a number of complaints to NHS Lincolnshire.
Private firm NSL Care Services took over the non-emergency transport contract on July 1.
As the changeover took place, the NHS received complaints, which were put down to problems with the telephone booking system.
And figures, released in a Freedom of Information request, show that 20 complaints have been made in total since the new service began.
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Half of them relate to transport failing to arrive or arriving late.
Alan Williams, 64, of Cherry Willingham, was expecting his wife, Paula, 47, to be picked up from Lincoln County Hospital after being discharged on September 10.
But after waiting for more than three hours for transport to arrive, Mrs Williams ended up paying for a taxi to take her home.
Mr Williams said: "Quite simply the transport didn't turn up to pick her up. In the end it looked like she would be waiting a long time so she got a taxi home and paid for it herself.
"She was discharged at 3.30pm and ended up getting the taxi at about 7pm.
"It is not a service at all, it is a disgrace. There weren't these problems before the new company was brought in.
"The whole thing is going backwards. It was a bad decision to change it as the service before was quite adequate. I am not surprised there have been lots of complaints."
Three complaints were regarding the length of time spent on the phone, two relating to being unable to book return transport and two instances of transport being unsuitable for the patient.
There was also one complaint that transport arrived too early, one that the patient couldn't book transport for the required time and one unspecified complaint.
Alastair Cooper, chief executive of NSL Care Services, said: "Since NSL Care took over non-emergency patient transport services in July, we have successfully transported patients to over 33,000 medical appointments in Lincolnshire.
"There were some well documented problems at the outset related to the telephone booking system.
"NSL Care apologised to patients at the time and implemented the necessary changes to improve the situation."
Bosses at NHS Lincolnshire, who commissioned NSL Care Services to provide the transport, said they had nothing to add to a statement they issued on July 12.
In it they apologised for the poor service and said they would continue to work with and scrutinise NSL Care Services.