Health bosses are demanding a full explanation after a pensioner with incurable cancer nearly missed a seven-hour chemotherapy session after his hospital transport failed to turn up.
It is the latest incident in a string of delays experienced by people since private firm NSL Care Services took over running patient transport services under a £26million contract.
Wheelchair-bound John Templeman, 68, says he was kept waiting three hours to be taken to Maidstone Hospital for palliative chemotherapy and a dose of pain-killing morphine.
Cancer sufferer John Templeman of East Malling who had a long wait for a private sub-contracted ambulance service
He sufferers from bone and liver cancer and an NSL ambulance was booked to pick him up from his home in Lavender Road, East Malling.
As the clock ticked, his disabled wife Susan, 65, says she was repeatedly told an ambulance “was on its way”.
She said: “We feel we were lied to all that time. We eventually learned from the switchboard that they had crew problems.”
When hospital staff heard what was happening, they also rang NSL on the couple’s behalf. The ambulance arrived three hours late.
Mrs Templeman added: “I didn’t think John would be in time for his seven-hour session. Thanks to Maidstone Hospital for intervening.”
“We feel we were lied to all that time. We eventually learned from the switchboard that they had crew problems” - Susan Templeman
NSL’s contract began in July and was awarded by the NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, which pays for health services.
The company’s managing director, Alastair Cooper, said the couple’s wait was unacceptable and they are in contact with them and the NHS about what happened.
He added: “We will also be writing to them detailing how we are improving the service. Part of the problem on the day was unexpected staff sickness which meant the workload had to be reallocated at a late stage.
“It is a priority for us to keep the patient informed with the most up-to-date information we have, however, in this instance the communication could have been much better.”
Ian Ayres, chief officer of NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The service received by this patient is unacceptable. We will raise this with NSL in the strongest terms.”