Ambulance firm is docked £12k
A private company taken on to ferry patients to and from hospital has had £12,636 docked from its payment.
Managers at Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland primary care trust (PCT) said they were withholding the cash because the company, Arriva, had failed to meet all its performance targets over the past three months.
Michael Whitworth, PCT project director, said although there had been improvements in getting patients to and from appointments on time, Arriva needed to do more to meet the terms of its contract, worth £31.3 million over five years.
He said: "There have been significant improvements and further improvements are expected this month."
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He said while more patients were getting lifts within target times, "it is not always often enough to meet the required standards".
Ros Devine, of Stoneygate, Leicester, who waited nearly three-and-a-half hours for a lift home from Leicester Royal Infirmary in November, said: "I'm not surprised Arriva hasn't been meeting its targets.
"The company doesn't seem to have thought how to develop the service or to have worked with clinical staff to understand how to provide it."
The company accepted there had been some delays for patients but said the service was improving.
A recent inspection by watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC), also found the company was now meeting its set of standards.
A spokesman for Arriva, which took over the patient transport service from East Midlands Ambulance Service in July, said: "Performance and service delivery has improved each month we have operated.
"We are meeting many of the targets set out in the contract.
"There are still some timeliness targets where improvements are required and we have plans in place and are working with commissioners to ensure progress continues."
The company has faced a barrage of criticism from patients who were either late for hospital appointments because of delays in picking them up or waited hours for a lift home.
It was also told to improve by the CQC following a spot check in September.
CQC inspectors returned on December 12 and spoke to three people who regularly use the service.
In their report, published on Wednesday, they said: "They were generally positive about their experiences.
"One person told us they felt the service had improved, saying 'some of the new drivers are very good. At first it was quite chaotic but it's better now'."
"All the people did say they often had to wait for some time to be taken home after their appointment."
Inspectors said there were now plans for the proper cleaning of cars and ambulances and all staff had a complete Criminal Records Bureau check.