COMMERCIAL: A company which runs a major patient transport service in Kent and Medway is likely to face “further actions” from commissioners after failing to meet targets in its first year.

A report to a meeting of Kent County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee this week shows the firm, NSL, has been struggling on six key targets for taking patients to and from the county’s hospitals.

The latest confirmed performance figures, which cover until the end of May, show it was falling significantly short on targets including for the proportion of patients arriving at hospital within an hour of their appointment time; the proportion collected to return home within an hour; for timely collection of renal patients; and for discharges and transfer booked on the day.

In some cases its performance has gone down marginally in recent months.

West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group – which manages the contract on behalf of all the area’s CCGs – warned in the report that NSL was required to meet these by the end of June. “Failure to meet these targets will lead to further actions being taken by the commissioners,” it said.

According to the CCG’s most recent governing body papers around 350 patients a month are still waiting more than three hours.

CCGs have previously had to put additional money into the service, as the support some patients required during travel was more than expected, and peak demand was higher than provided for.

A CQC report in January was critical of the service and a follow up report is expected to be published soon.

NSL said in statement: “We continue to achieve regular positive feedback from patients, transporting the vast majority of them early and on time, with the care and compassion they deserve.

“Our performance is dependent in no small part on the regular and close daily communications with hospital and trust staff, which our introduction of ‘floorwalkers’, (liaisons between wards and units and NSL’s control and planning teams), helps to achieve.

“Whilst we wouldn’t dispute the figures provided by the CCG, with whom we continue to work closely, it is very important to note that the timeliness breaches reported include those cases where patients are transported early – in some cases, just missing the KPI window.”