While NHS England tries to convince us all that they are aiming to integrate services, eager beaver privatisers like Bath and NE Somerset CCG (BaNES) clearly have other ideas. Its January Governing Body meeting heard that the latest service to be contracted out is for non-emergency patient transport service across BaNES, Swindon & Wiltshire. From June 1 E-zec Medical Transport Services will take charge of these services in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, “replacing the service currently provided by Arriva Transport Solutions”.

The CCG enthusiastically adds in the company’s description of itself as “a family run company focused on delivering high quality, safe, effective transportation for patients to and from a healthcare setting,” as they boast on their website.

However a swift check on Google brings up some much less rosy assessments of the company, not least from last year’s inspection by the CQC, which found the service was “underperforming in seven out of nine key performance indicators as of April 2018.”

Vehicles checked were “unclean”, with spilt liquids on seats and stretchers, “unsecured clinical waste on vehicles and a dirty, stained patient blanket behind a folded chair.” Vehicle cleanliness was “not audited by local managers.”

Mandatory training levels were below 50%, and the service did not have a structured plan with set actions to achieve compliance.

“Staff morale was poor in areas; the culture of the service was one of fear to speak up. Staff team meetings were rare.” In 2014, an investigation of their service in Dorset brought a damning report from local councillors that criticised E-zec’s failure to arrive or late delivery of patients to hospitals for vital procedures like chemotherapy and dialysis.

For patients’ sake let’s hope the friendly family face of E-zec turns up, not the one seen by the CQC.

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