WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Hospital’s patient-transport drivers oppose ‘transfer’ to G4S

Protest after University College Hospital bosses announced plans to outsource roles to private security company

22 December, 2017 — By Tom Foot

University College Hospital in Euston Road

PATIENT transport drivers protested outside University College Hospital after bosses announced plans to outsource them to a private security company.

The in-house team of 11 NHS drivers, who transport patients living close to the hospital in Euston Road to-and-from non-emergency appointments, do not want to be transferred over to G4S.

The company provides transport for some University College London Hospitals patients and the board is now planning to extend its contract to include the local team, despite a surge in complaints.

One driver, who did not want to be named, said: “We have built up relationships with these patients and we don’t want to have to apologising to them all the time.

“It has been chaotic this year with the rest of the service, to say the least. Patients are not getting picked up or they are being delayed by hours. Some of these are cancer patients going for chemotherapy. Quite frankly they do not have the time to be left hanging around.”

Some of the drivers have been working for the NHS for more than 20 years.

G4S, one of the largest private employers in the world,has been heavily criticised for shoddy service in prisons, detention centres and at the 2012 Olympic Games

The Extra has reported the hospital’s board raising concerns about surging complaints from patients about the company at the September meeting. Despite this the company’s contract with UCLH is being extended to include the “local journeys” service in the package.

In September chief executive Professor Marcel Levi told the board that the G4S contract was “under review”, adding: “There continue to be complaints about the service, the majority of these are about long waiting times.”

A UCLH spokeswoman said: “We acknowledge the difficulties our patients have been experiencing with G4S and the frustration this has caused.

“After careful consideration of a range of options, we are planning to transfer the in-house service to G4S, which already provides the bulk of our patient transport. The purpose of the transfer is to allow G4S to allocate its drivers and cars more efficiently and so provide a better service for our patients. We have begun a formal consultation with the affected staff and will be supporting them through this process. In the current financial climate, we must use our resources as efficiently as possible and deliver the best value services to our patients.”

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