NHS contractors responsible for transporting patients to their doctors’ appointments have been facing a lot of criticism for the quality of service. It started with Coperforma in Sussex, and now Arriva in Gloucestershire has been criticised. Coperforma has lost the patient transport service contract.
A 67-year-old disabled man from Stonehouse stated that he has missed his doctors’ appointments after Arriva transport either turned up late to collect him or did not come at all. The patient also pointed to one instance when the contractor had refused to transport him because of some problems with his mobility scooter. As a result, he had to pay about £25 for a taxi fare out of his disability allowance.
The patient accused the NHS transport contractor of risking his health and constantly leaving him stuck, with no access to transportation. The patient also pointed out that while he has been using the non-emergency transport service for about two years, he has noticed a decline in the quality of service over the last three months.
Earlier, Arriva was criticised by Gloucestershire County Council for paying more attention to profits rather than quality of service and had informed the contractor that it needed to bring about serious changes in its service.
Arriva Head of Patient Transport Service Andrew Cullen has since apologised to the patient and explained that the delay occurred because the service crew had to pick up another patient who required more care than the crew was informed.
Cullen went on to add that in future, when the patient requires non-emergency transport, the service would allocate another type of vehicle that can accommodate his mobility scooter or ensure that there is a wheelchair in the ambulance for his use.
Arriva also has NHS contracts in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. However, even in these places, the medical contractor’s performance in the last three years has been questionable.