Ambulance service is blasted as number of complaints rise
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. org.uk/gmr or call Nicola Musk on 01372 220 022.