CQC critical of South West hospital transport company

NSL ambulance The CQC said patients were let down because transport was late or did not arrive

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Health watchdogs have demanded urgent action from the firm that runs non-emergency hospital transport in the South West.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found not all staff working for NSL had proper training and background checks.

It said patients were let down because transport was late or did not arrive.

NSL has blamed administrative errors for failures in staff record checks and said the majority of patients did arrive on time or early.

Inspectors said they had issued a warning notice to the firm to protect patients' health, safety and welfare.

One kidney dialysis patient spent 10 hours away from home to attend a three-hour treatment session.

NSL provides transport for NHS services in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

'Not at risk'

NHS Kernow, which commissions the service in Cornwall, said: "Our primary concern is to ensure that people who use the service are safe and they benefit from a high quality service.

"We have no reason to believe that any patients have been put at risk by anything outlined in the warning notice.

"We have asked NSL to confirm that all staff have completed a DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] check and that systems are in place to ensure these checks are routinely reviewed and updated."

The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said it was "concerned" the CQC had issued the warning.

'Reassure patients'

It said it had assurances from NSL that it was in the process of providing outstanding documents and improvements which should prevent any further warning notice being issued.

In a statement NSL said: "We would like to reassure our patients that all of our colleagues undergo DBS criminal record checks; however, an administrative error meant that these checks were not recorded on the personnel files of two of our colleagues, which have since been rectified."

The company added it had carried out additional recruitment and invested in more vehicles.

It said it would provide the CQC with a plan in the coming days, outlining actions taken and those under way.

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