Am­bu­lance ser­vice is blasted as num­ber of com­plaints rise

Wilmslow Express - - NEWS -

COM­PLAINTS about the am­bu­lance ser­vice run by a bus com­pany have in­creased in the past year – de­spite bosses claim­ing it had ‘sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved’.

Ar­riva Trans­port So­lu­tions re­ceived more than 600 for­mal com­plaints from pa­tients in 2014 – with 80 per cent judged to be to­tally or par­tially jus­ti­fied.

Fig­ures ob­tained by our sis­ter pa­per the M.E.N. show how 136 were up­held in the fi­nal three months of last year – a rate of 10 per week and a 74pc rise on the 78 dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2013.

Ar­riva, which em­ploys nearly 1,300 staff, pro­vides more than 1,500 non­emer­gency pa­tient trans­port ser­vices a day.

The op­er­a­tor dealt with 287 com­plaints in the first six months of last year com­pared to 315 in the sec­ond half – a 10pc rise.

Ar­riva won the bid to pro­vide non-emer­gency med­i­cal jour­neys across Greater Manch­ester from April 2013 – un­der­cut­ting the NHS North West Am­bu­lance Ser­vice by £3.5m to se­cure the deal. But the op­er­a­tor was handed an im­prove­ment no­tice by NHS bosses early last year af­ter it re­ceived hun­dreds of com­plaints from pa­tients and missed key tar­gets. Months later, Ar­riva’s head of Greater Manch­ester, Den­nis Ha­j­dukiewicz, said the firm had made ‘sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments’ as it started hit­ting tar­gets.

But MP Lucy Pow­ell, who is de­fend­ing the Manch­ester Cen­tral seat at the elec­tion, said the con­tin­u­ing is­sues faced by pa­tients showed that the pri­vati­sa­tion of the am­bu­lance ser­vice had been a ‘fail­ure’.

She said: “Ar­riva tell us they have im­proved and are meet­ing their tar­gets but too many of my con­stituents tell me they are still get­ting an in­ad­e­quate ser­vice.

“I have al­ways said that ser­vice would be af­fected by pri­vatis­ing part of our NHS – the prob­lems that we are still see­ing show that it has been a fail­ure.”

The fig­ures re­veal Ar­riva re­ceived 28 pieces of pos­i­tive feed­back – or com­men­da­tions – over the year. They also show how Ar­riva started hit­ting its tar­gets ev­ery month from May last year. The tar­gets in­clude get­ting pa­tients to hos­pi­tal ap­point­ments on time, pick­ing them up within an hour of their col­lec­tion time af­ter­wards, and en­sur­ing they are not on the am­bu­lance for longer than 60 min­utes.

Ar­riva’s im­prove­ment no­tice was lifted last Septem­ber. The three-year Pa­tient Trans­port Ser­vices con­tract, which is awarded by the NHS Black­pool Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group, is up for re­newal.

Bosses at Black­pool CCG said the level of com­plaints had not risen sig­nif­i­cantly enough for them to be con­cerned.

A spokesman added: “We con­tinue to mon­i­tor the per­for­mance of Ar­riva and all per­for­mance mea­sures in the con­tract are be­ing met.”

The M.E.N. was only able to com­pare year-onyear statis­tics from the three-month pe­riod be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber as Ar­riva started record­ing com­plaint data dif­fer­ently to­wards the end of 2013.

The Rain­bow Trust Char­ity is of­fer­ing guar­an­teed places in the Mor­risons Great Manch­ester Run on Sun­day, May 10.

The trust is en­cour­ag­ing run­ners to sup­port them and to raise aware­ness for the work they do in help­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren fac­ing life threat­en­ing ill­nesses.

Ap­pli­cants will ben­e­fit from fundrais­ing and train­ing ad­vice as well as a spon­sored vest.

Visit www.rain­bowtrust. or call Ni­cola Musk on 01372 220 022.

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