A company contracted for patient transport in Lincolnshire looks set to be replaced after health scrutiny bosses said they ‘no longer had confidence’ in its ability to provide an adequate service.
Thames Ambulance Service (TASL) has been tasked with providing non-emergency transport for patients between home and hospital in the county.
However, since winning the multi-million contract last year it has been hit with a string of complaints about the qaulity of service being provided.
Things had looked like improving after the firm ordered a number of changes to the executive and staff, fleet reviews, a new booking system and more after a CQC inspection in November.
However, despite assurance from TASL and a generally positive response to the report, councillors failed to be impressed by Key Performance Indicators.
Chairman Carl Macey said during the meeting performance was at the “lowest point” they have “every been” and he felt “no confidence” in the service, despite understanding the explanations why.
Speaking following the meeting he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’ve now had TASL coming to us for a period of around about a year, 10 months with a new structure in place.
“Over that period of time when they initially came back to us we saw some improvements across performance indicators and we felt residents were finally beginning to get the service they deserved.
“Unfortunately today the KPIs have now dropped lower than back in February.
“Although we’ve had some explanation as to why it is we’ve got to this point and that they’re being recorded incorrectly we haven’t got the evidence to corroborate this.”
He said the committee were still hearing a number of complaints against the service.
He added: “We feel we’re in a position now where they’ve had plenty of time to try and get these improvements in place and unfortunately they’re not progressing in the right manner.”
Mike Casey, general manager at Thames Ambulance Service, told councillors during the meeting that there was “still much more to do”, adding “it is a difficult journey we are on, but it’s been fast paced and we continue that journey.”
He said investors were confident and wanted to see the company carry on, and assured councillors that by April, eight of their 18 performance measures would be met which would up to 15 by June.
He said he was confident the Care Quality Commission, if they carried out another inspection, “would see a strong work programme of improvements.”
However, he acknowledged that data quality when recording performance had been “the biggest issue” due to a new automated reporting process, but promised that it would be fixed from January 15, 2019.
The committee will now write to Lincolnshire West CCG, which is the lead commissioner for non-emergency patient transport services in the county, asking them to exit the contract “as soon as strategically possible” and return to the committee in January to update them on progress.
Tim Fowler, Director of Commissioning and Contracting at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We note the decision of the Health Scrutiny Committee today and will carefully consider our response once we receive the letter from them.
“We are disappointed that the reported performance of Thames Ambulance Service Ltd (TASL) for October does not show achievement of the required levels and in turn has led to today’s decision by the Health Scrutiny Committee.
“As always, we aspire for the highest quality of care and services for our patients and the CCG will continue to monitor TASL performance closely.”