THE transfer of a patient transport service to a private company has come under a stinging attack from councillors who have labelled the process ‘diabolical’ and a ‘gargantuan failure’.
Patients due to visit hospitals for vital procedures like chemotherapy and dialysis were not picked up or arrived late for treatments after a catalogue of errors in the transfer of Dorset’s non-emergency transport service, a committee of councillors has been told.
And, as reported in yesterday’s Echo, E-zec Medical’s operations have also been slated in a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The company was told it needs to improve in four out of five areas examined.
After Primary Care Trusts were dissolved, the Dorset Cli-nical Commissioning Group (CCG) took responsibility for a single non-emergency patient transport service for Dorset. Deputy director at Dorset CCG Margaret Allen told a meeting of the Dorset health scrutiny committee that E-zec Medical was awarded the contract and the service officially went live on October 1, 2013 – six months later than planned.
She said: “Certainly in the first six to eight weeks of the service it was quite disastrous.
“Some issues sat specifically with E-zec and some were completely beyond their control.”
Mrs Allen said issues included problems with patient data transfer while for the first four weeks, E-zec received around 1,600 calls a day, compared with the expected 470.
The results saw patients picked up late while some were not picked up at all.
Mrs Allen said the CCG had pumped extra funds into the service on a short-term basis.
Councillor Janet Dover said she knew a patient who had struggled to get to a chemo-therapy appointment.
She said: “This is extremely distressing for patients.”
And Cllr Berryl Ezzard said: “You must have known that it was going to fall at the first hurdle – it’s diabolical. It’s disgraceful. I’m really appalled.”
Members agreed to form a special select committee to produce a report .
Issues being resolved
MANAGING director of E-zec Medical Services Limited Paul Swann has acknowledged there were ‘initial issues’ with service delivery but insists work is ongoing to achieve ‘steady improvements.
He said: “We acknowledge there were initial issues which affected services.
“We have continued to work closely with the CCG and other partners, and are undertaking an improvement plan which will bring about steady improvements.”