Private Healthcare Firm Signs Uber Deal For Carers And Patients

A private healthcare provider has signed a deal with Uber to transport its carers and home patients....
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Private Healthcare Firm Signs Uber Deal For Carers And Patients (Worawee Meepian / Shutterstock.com)

Private Healthcare Firm Signs Uber Deal For Carers And Patients

A private healthcare provider has signed a deal with Uber to transport its carers and home patients.

Cera said it had struck a deal with Uber to transport its London-based carers to their patients, while its disabled customers will be able to use UberAssist and UberWav to get out and about.

In a separate deal, Cera is to provide on-the-go care to patients of several NHS hospitals, covering five million people. Specifically, at Barts Health NHS trust, the largest NHS trust in the country, Cera will deliver care for patients, including those with dementia and cancer, in their homes.

A spokeswoman for Barts said, however, that its contract with Cera did not cover patient transport, as had been incorrectly reported by the media [including the agency report on which the earlier Guardian article was based].

“We do not have any contracts with Uber to provide non-emergency patient transport,” she said. “When patients need assistance getting to and from our hospitals we provide ambulances and medi-cars, driven by trained experts.

“We are working with a number of registered organisations, including Cera, to make sure patients get vital support in their own homes. This includes physiotherapy, nursing or domestic support to help people recover after a stay in hospital.”

Cera was launched in November 2016 and is regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

In a statement announcing the deal with Uber, Cera said: “The partnership will enable Cera’s London-based carers to use Uber to get to the people they are caring for as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

“It will also give those who need care the freedom to book cars so they can get out and about when they would otherwise have been housebound, or had to rely on someone else.

“Disabled customers, or those who need a little extra help, will be able to book UberAssist – or a fully wheelchair accessible vehicle through UberWav – driven by one of Uber’s hundreds of fully licensed and top-rated partner drivers, who have been through a specially designed disability equality training course.”

Dr Ben Maruthappu, a former doctor and Cera’s co-founder, said the Uber deal would “radically integrate care and transport through technology”, adding: “Older people and those with disabilities will now have access to the highest-quality drivers, while carers will be able to efficiently travel to ensure they can provide services in the right place at the right time.”

The Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “Social care and the NHS are in such a state of crisis that any initiative to ease the pressure will be welcomed by patients and staff.

“But the funding chasm between what is needed and the pitiful amount councils currently have to commission care is too deep. Nothing short of an emergency injection of cash in the budget, followed by the sustained and realistic funding of health and care will be enough.

“The government must also ensure that all companies that win care contracts don’t exploit staff and pay at the very least the minimum wage. Sadly there are still many out there breaking the law and getting away with it.”

David Mowat, the minister for community and social care, said: “This is an interesting and innovative proposal which will help raise awareness of the challenges faced by the vulnerable elderly, and those with specific conditions that are becoming increasingly common in our society.”

Source: By Jamie Grierson / theguardian.com

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