Staff at NHS clinics have had to work extra hours to stay with stranded patients because of delays by a private ambulance firm, according to a report by NHS Nene.
NSL Ltd, which takes Northamptonshire people to medical appointments, has been regularly missing targets on picking and dropping off patients, the report states.
NHS Nene, which pays for the service, says staff, as well as patients, are now being inconvenienced because of the regular delays.
A report by NHS Nene into NSL’s performance says: “This has led to patients either waiting in out-patients for long periods prior to appointment time or arriving late and so missing the appointment altogether.
“For those patients needing transport home, after appointments many are waiting between one and two hours in out-patients.
“In some cases, this has led to staff working extra hours after closure of the clinic awaiting collection of the patient.”
That is not the limit of the impact that NSL’s lateness has caused, with bed blocking also made worse, NHS Nene says.
The report says: “For those being discharged from inpatient care there are delays of in excess of 150 minutes.
“The impact of this causes some patients to be ‘re-bedded’ due to transport lateness.”
Resultant cancelled or aborted journeys have also caused wide-ranging problems such as medication not being ready to take home or the patient becoming too ill to be transported, it says. In some cases, the patients have made their own way to hospital.