Patients dismiss hospital transport as a 'shambles'
A patient transport service is again under fire after a man was 40 minutes late for his hospital appointment and then had to wait more than two hours for a lift home.
It has also emerged that the Government health watchdog Care Quality Commission (CQC) is checking to make sure the company, Ambuline – part of Arriva – is meeting all the proper patient care standards.
The company has been dogged by problems since it took over the service from East Midlands Ambulance Service at the start of July.
Patients have complained about long waits to get home from their hospital appointments.
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Keith Shipway, from Burton Lazars, was due to be at an 11am appointment at Leicester Royal Infirmary on Monday but was 40 minutes late after his lift arrived at 11am.
He then had to wait more than two hours to be picked up and eventually got home at about 5pm.
He said: "I met one chap who had been waiting three-and-a-half hours to go home.
"There was also a lady with a care worker who, when I left at about 4.30pm, had been waiting since 12.30pm and the carer was very anxious about getting home to collect her children.
"Another lady had been waiting since noon to go home."
Mr Shipway, 56, who cannot drive because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, said: "The whole thing seems to be a complete shambles.
"The contract needs to be looked at to make sure the company is providing what it promised.
"The staff do a fantastic job – it is not their fault – but this service is clearly not better for patients.
"I have a condition which will go away, but a lot of people are elderly, need to use the service regularly and don't like to speak out."
A spokesman for the CQC said: "We carried out a planned inspection of Ambuline, Leicestershire, on September 12 and 13.
"A report of our inspectors' findings will be published on our website shortly."
Alison Hassell, an associate director with the primary care trusts in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said the company needed time to "bed-in" the service and timings of patients' lifts had improved.
She said: "We will continue to monitor performance and the expected improvements closely as we move into the fourth month of the contract.
"We will consider the use of contractual terms and penalties if necessary in the future."
A spokesman for Ambuline/Arriva said: "We are very committed to making this services a real success and have invested in a fleet of new vehicles, control centre and ambulance bases.
"There are, however, still a significant number of journeys which operate late and there are regular meeting to discuss actions being taken to improve the service."