England’s private ambulance services need some tough discipline as companies – from bus firms like Arriva to parking firms like NSL ( formerly National Car Parks) rush to make profits providing patient transport.
A report I have written for Tribune magazine this week reveals that already 50 per cent of patient journeys to care homes and hospitals are provided by the private sector and they are already eyeing up taking over 999 ambulance services, Such is the pace of privatisation under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
The standards provided by some of the companies – as earlier blogs, including one from personal; experience reveal,- is little short of cruel and appalling. I will be returning in future blogs to expose other bad firms who show little care for elderly and disabled people except to swell their bosses’s salaries.
However there is some good news. The Care Quality Commission – whose job it is to monitor hospitals, care homes and ambulance services – is planning to up its game. It is reviewing its entire inspection system of both private and public ambulance services – for both patient transport and emergency responses.
The decision is contained in a report from the CQC which reveals that Sir Michael Richards, chief hospitals inspector, has decided that this rather neglected side of the business deserves revamping. The report also discloses – as the CQC is the main registration for ambulance services that already 50 per cent of patient transport journeys are carried out by private firms.
Sir Michael ought to have done this sooner – he should know from, some of his own CQC inspections that some private firms were failing in the most basic way – like not bothering to check the criminal records of staff carrying vulnerable patients or whether they had proper training.
He is making big promises He says: “Over the next three years we will develop a ratings system for most providers of health and social care.
“Our ratings will develop to become the single, authoritative assessment of the quality and safety provided by an organisation. They will be primarily based on the judgements of our inspectors about whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led, but will also take into account all the information we hold about a service and the findings of others.”
Fine words, he better keep them. Unions like Unite and Unison are already warning about the deterioration of services and some of the people who have contacted me on this website have related appalling experiences. The only private firm that contacted me wanted the information I reported about a bad inspection of their company by the CGC removed from the internet. It shows you where they are coming from. Vigilance of these firms is going to be essential.