Ambulance service slammed by patients

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COMPLAINTS have been flooding in across the borough in the first month after non-emergency medical transport in Greater Manchester was switched to a bus company.

Arriva Transport Solutions (ATSL) were handed the contract for patients with non-urgent hospital appointments on April 1.

The company, which operates buses and trains, undercut the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) by £3.5m to win the contract after it was put out to tender.

But since taking over Arriva has been flooded with 116 complaints about poor service.

When the decision was taken to award the contract to Arriva in December last year, protests and reservations were made.

The MP for Leigh and shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, wanted the Government to block the move. He said: “As a Greater Manchester MP I cannot accept that we might have a lower standard of service here than elsewhere in the North West. It is not just a fight for the passenger patient transport service in Greater Manchester, it’s everybody’s fight. Once you lose that trust that underpins the health service, you’ll never get it back again.”

More than 14,000 people signed a petition against the move.

The passenger service employs 374 NHS staff and provides around two million journeys a year for chemotherapy patients, disabled people and elderly people in care homes too ill or vulnerable for public transport.

A spokesman for Arriva said: “We are committed to ensuring that patients across Greater Manchester receive the very highest quality non-emergency patient transport service.”

Jonathan May, MD of Arriva Transport Solutions, said: “Every day across the UK we help thousands of people get to and from their hospital appointments. We are using the extensive clinical and logistical expertise we have gained over the past 30 years to prepare for the Greater Manchester non-emergency patient transport contract.”