Neil Parish MP has received a reply from Dr Belinda Webb, MCIPR, Head of Communications at NSL, regarding the South West patient transport service and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report which criticised its performance.
CQC had warned NSL that it must make improvements to its service. This follows an inspection visit in June which was carried out to follow up on requirements set following a previous inspection.
On the 11th September Neil Parish wrote to Mr Mark Underwood, Chief Executive of NSL, to ask for assurances that action has been taken to correct these errors and for details of their strategy to ensure that this service is of the high quality expected by the public.
In their reply NSL said:
“I am pleased to say that our team in the south west has already addressed most of the issues highlighted in the inspectors’ report. We have also submitted to the CQC our action plan, which we are already working to, in addressing the remaining issues.
“With regards to the CQC’s decision to give us a Warning Notice, I can assure you that all employees undergo DBS checks, although at the time of the inspection it was found that two colleagues did not have these DBS checks noted on the hard copy version of their personnel files. We have now tightened this process to ensure a repeat of this administrative oversight does not occur again.
“NSL aspires to be the very best provider to patients of non-emergency transport, not just throughout the south west, but across the UK. It is to this end that we have set our sights.
With regards to the one area that we are continuously working on – the issue of transport timeliness – I am sure you understand that our service does not, indeed cannot, work as a standalone service. It is one part of a chain of interactions, which begins with the booking of a patient’s appointment. This makes it imperative for all within that chain to work closely to ensure as smooth a process as possible. We are building up very good relations with all points of care that patients are transported to and from and to ensure patients are made aware of potential timings of their transport. We have recruited many more colleagues than was transferred over at the time of our taking on the service in October 2013, and have also invested in more vehicles, which also reflects the demand on the service.
We urged the press, whilst reporting on the CQC’s findings, to ensure balance by reporting in context, as failure to do so results in greater fears for patients, as well as demoralising our very hard working colleagues. In this regard it is important to note that, in August, 232 out of 237 patients surveyed said that they would recommend the NSL patient transport service to their friends and family.
“Whilst one complaint will always be one too many, it is also useful to know that complaints represent much less than 1% of all patient transport journeys, and that the vast majority are transported to their medical appointments early and on time.
“We shall continue to implement our action plan and to ensure our processes are as tight as possible in ensuring the welfare of our patients.
“I do hope that this assures both yourself and those constituents using our service, however, should you require further information or would like to meet in person to discuss further, I am available to meet at your convenience.”
Commenting on the reply, Neil Parish said:
“I am pleased that steps are being made to rectify mistakes and improve services. However, I will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that NSL are providing a South West patient transport service that is of the highest possible standard. I will be seeking a meeting with NSL to discuss their strategy to restore public confidence in their service.”