A Leighton Buzzard transplant patient has come forward to expose his “inadequate” treatment by Private Ambulance Service (PAS), as an action plan is put into place by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG).
Richard Payne, 43, of Leighton Road, had a kidney transplant in February, just before Private Ambulance Service were given a contract by BCCG earlier this year.
However, following the transplant, Richard needed three lots of dialysis per week at Churchill Hospital, Oxford, as well as regular clinic check-ups, and found the service to be nothing but stressful.
He claimed: “I remember I had one appointment at 10 or 11 o clock in the morning, but I was late being picked up and didn’t get there until five o clock!
“There were a couple of occasions when they were late to collect me and I didn’t get home until 11 o clock at night; however the unit closed at 7pm, so I’d have to sit in a main ward with a nurse, who felt sorry for me, and had to stay behind.
“PAS just didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on- they were either late picking me up or didn’t pick me up at all!
“I remember a call from their office saying that the ambulance was going to be about 20 minutes as they were on the M40 – but that meant they were one hour away... not 20 minutes!
“The drivers were very nice, very apologetic, but they also told me they didn’t actually get proper job lists!”
Richard also says that he was telephoned by the drivers – who had arrived at the hospital to pick him up – to ask his location, but upon finding out this information, didn’t know where his dialysis unit was located; this was basic information Richard felt they should have been told.
The frustrated patient claims he also had to pay £70 for a taxi home once after a no-show from PAS, and although refunded, Richard was left upset.
He argued: “The irony is, once I was considered ‘well and fit’ and had arranged appointments in Milton Keynes, PAS turned up on time to take me to Oxford – I didnt need them anymore!
“As a patient you need comfort, reliability and continuity, but I wasn’t given that.”
However, BCCG are ensuring residents that action will be taken.
A BCCG spokeswoman, said: ““There is an action plan in place with Private Ambulance Service (PAS), including elements to tackle issues specific to the local area of each of the CCGs within the consortium.
“The consortium, including Luton CCG, meets with senior managers at PAS face-to-face weekly to monitor progress and the CCGs are undertaking a range of other activities to both support PAS and to gain assurance of the safety of their service.
“This includes visits to their call centre, vehicle inspections, meeting with staff and reviewing performance data at a local level.
“If PAS continue to fail to meet agreed performance standards a performance notice can be issued which could include financial penalties.
“The focus for all CCGs in the consortium is to improve the service provided to patients now to ensure it meets the high standard we expect from providers.”
Dr Alvin Low, clinical chair for BCCG, concluded: “Patients have raised some serious concerns about the quality and reliability of the company Private Ambulance Service (PAS), which we have listened to and are tackling – head on.
“The quality of the service currently provided is unacceptable and we are working closely with Private Ambulance Service to address these issues.
“Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has taken patient feedback seriously.
“Remedial action plans have been put into place to improve call handling capability to ensure patients are collected at the right time and are on time for appointments and to improve the quality of the service.
“We take patient safety seriously and we continue to conduct unannounced visits by the quality team to ensure that the service is safe for our patients. Our Quality team is monitoring the PAS contract on a weekly basis and regular escalation meetings are taking place with PAS to review improvements.
“PAS were commissioned on a 12-month fixed term contract while a robust procurement process is underway. The new contract will begin in April 2018.
“We are considering a range of options to ensure that we deliver a good service, but our first priority is to tackle the issues we have in the current contract to improve the service for our patients now.”
PAS were contacted for a comment but did not respond before the LBO went to press.
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