G4S Healthcare Services is the new provider of non-emergency patient transport for people in Kent and Medway from 1 July 2016.
The service provides free transport for people whose health means they cannot get to or from their NHS appointment in any other way.
Ian Ayres, Chief Officer for NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who oversaw the procurement and preparations for launch, said: “We want people to have a really good patient transport service in Kent and Medway.
“So we have introduced improved service standards, which will better meet patient needs.
“We are reducing the amount of time that patients spend waiting for their appointment, to go home, or travelling.
“To give one example, dialysis patients can expect to reach hospital within 15 minutes of their appointment and to be picked up to go home within 30 minutes of NHS staff confirming they are ready to go. We expect that to be the case at least 95 per cent of the time. The target is 100 per cent.
“Patient transport is a complex service and I would ask patients to be aware that, in the first few days after transfer, not everything may run smoothly. However, G4S has been working closely with the NHS Trusts in Kent and Medway, the clinical commissioning groups and a patient representative to prepare for launch and we are confident it will provide a good patient transport service.”
The service is available to eligible people registered with a Kent or Medway GP for journeys within Kent and Medway and elsewhere.
The service is also available to people registered with a Bexley or Bromley GP travelling into Kent and Medway for treatment.
John Shaw, Managing Director for G4S Public Services, said: “This is a vital service and we have been careful to design it in line with NHS commissioners’ requirements and to ensure the standards we have committed to are those which matter most to patients.
“We are bringing in new technology, a fleet of new vehicles and 90 extra members of staff. This is a large, complex service and our teams and crews are working very hard to ensure it transfers as smoothly as possible. I am sure there will be some challenges during the first few weeks but I would like to reassure patients that every effort has been taken to ensure waiting times are kept to an absolute minimum.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their support to date and we look forward to providing a strong and reliable service for the patients of Kent and Medway.”
G4S has a fleet of more than 150 new vehicles including 102 new ambulances, 53 of which are equipped to take stretchers and all are suitable for most types of wheelchair.
In the first year of the new service, there are expected to be around 316,000 patient journeys. In total, over six years, there should be nearly two million.
The contracts are worth close to £90million over the six years, and there is an option to extend them for a further three.
G4S has already phoned everyone with a booking for 1 July onwards whose details were transferred to them by the former provider, to confirm that their transport is booked.
The criteria for eligibility for patient transport services are not changing – these are set nationally. However, a considerable amount of work has been done in Kent and Medway to ensure that the criteria are applied in a completely fair and consistent way.
G4S has a freephone bookings line open 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 0800 096 0211.
For more information, please visit: www.km-pts.co.uk
For media enquiries, please contact Emma Burns, Principal Associate, NHS South East Commissioning Support Unit (South East CSU) on 03000 424499 or at firstname.lastname@example.org