Privatised Patient Transport Company over claimed £1.5 million

THE company in charge of running non-emergency ambulances for patients  across Greater Manchester has admitted “overstating performance standards” and incorrectly claiming more than £1.5 million in incentive payments for its services.

Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd currently provides non-emergency patient transport services (PTS) to Greater Manchester’s 12 Clinical Commissioning Groups — including in Bolton.

The firm recently disclosed to Blackpool CCG — the commissioner of the services — that it had discovered management and processing failures to do with the reporting of performance standards.

It said performance achievements have been “overstated” and subsequently incentive monies have been “incorrectly claimed” by the firm.

On receiving the information, Blackpool CCG immediately referred the matter to the NHS for investigations and ATSL has now repaid all the cash it believes has been incorrectly claimed.

The current contract expires in 2016 and a new tender exercise to determine who will provide the service in the future is nearly completed — given the circumstances, ATSL has withdrawn from the process.

Amanda Doyle, chief clinical officer for NHS Blackpool CCG said: “We are fully aware of the situation and our main priority now is securing improvements of the service provision in Greater Manchester and consider how we do this going forward.”

Blackpool CCG said it has received just more than £1.542 million from Arriva for the overpayments and while it believes that is the correct amount, it had asked for independent financial verification.

Last year, figures showed that almost half of Bolton patients being taken to hospital appointments by Arriva were not arriving on time and a quarter of people questioned by patients group Healthwatch Bolton reported being more than an hour late.

The survey said that the firm was not recognizing the practical difficulties of helping “some very sick people” to board the ambulance, or take into account traffic.

Su Long is Bolton CCG’s chief officer, she added: “The performance of the patient transport services provided by Arriva Transport Solutions has been the focus of complaint and comment from local people.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that assurances made to our Board have been based on incorrect information from the company.  Arriva has been reporting a higher level of performance that was not being delivered to patients.

“I will be writing to all those who formally complained to NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group to apologise and provide the correct information on the operation of this service.”

She added: “Arriva Transport Solutions has put a performance plan in place to rectify recent failings, has increased levels of staffing, and introduced a new management team.

“NHS Bolton CCG will be working with NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group, the lead commissioner for this service, to ensure transport services continue for patients before a new provider takes over next year.”

Asiya Jelani, head of communications at Arriva Transport Solutions Limited, said:“We recognise that incorrect reporting of performance is not just disappointing but unacceptable and have therefore withdrawn from the tender process for the new contract.

Share article

“Our focus is on ensuring that the people of Greater Manchester receive the best possible service from us until the end of our contract.

“Steps we have taken to ensure this include new interim management, increased staff numbers to increase ambulance hours on the road, better use of taxis and third-party providers, focused management of planning and scheduling of journeys in the control room as well as daily monitoring of performance levels.”