New ambulance deal begins

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Wigan’s non-emergency transport service has returned to the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) having changed hands in 2013.

The new contract begins today after Arriva, the previous contract holders, took itself out of the running to continue after it was embroiled in a performance bonus scandal.

NWAS said it was welcoming back staff who transferred away when it lost the contract.

Ian Stringer, Head of Patient Transport Services (PTS) said: “This is a major time of change for NWAS’ patient transport service with work being done to improve almost every area of the service from streamlining our online booking service and consistent use of eligibility criteria, to using the latest technology on our vehicles and providing opportunities for regular engagement with patients.

“We are also delighted to be able to provide an enhanced service to regular service users with specialist needs; our cancer and renal dialysis patients, by increased service operating hours, a more flexible service with dedicated Freephone telephone numbers and a better escalation process if things go wrong.”

As part of the deal, NWAS will provide non-emergency transport for patients across Wigan borough as well as Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria for the next five years.

Mr Stringer added: “With the new contracts come fresh expectations of us as a service provider and it was clear that in order to meet those, we had to instigate change throughout the Trust.

“As with our emergency colleagues, there are clear targets that we must meet and we have taken this opportunity to redesign the service.

“This is a very exciting time for the Trust. We were disappointed to not win the contract in Cheshire but we have worked closely with the new provider, West Midlands Ambulance Service, to ensure a smooth transition for both staff and patients.

“As we begin to deliver this new contract, we are very excited about the future and are looking forward to embracing the challenges ahead of us.”