A modernised and improved patient centered service is available to patients requiring non-emergency transport in four counties across the North West as part of new contracts provided by the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS), which takes effect from 1 July 2016.
Following a successful tender process, the Trust submitted bids for the contracts to provide non-emergency patient transport in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria. It previously ran the service in Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria.
Since then, NWAS has taken the opportunity to re-examine the service and introduced new measures to ensure full compliance with the contract and to listen to the views of patients and other stakeholders, resulting in a new and improved experience for patients.
The improvements are underpinned by an improved and updated Patient Charter which outlines the Trust’s commitment to the care and safe transportation of patients – providing the right care, at the right time and in the right place. The Charter explains what patients can expect of the Trust, how to access services and how to feedback their experiences as well as what the service requires from them.
Ian Stringer, Head of Patient Transport Services (PTS) explains: “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.”
Winning the Greater Manchester contract means welcoming back staff who left the Trust in 2013 when the contract was taken over by Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd.
Working in partnership with Staff Side, NWAS has completed a restructure of managerial and support staff, improved training and introduced more flexible operational rosters. A number of initiatives have been implemented to ensure a more responsive and accessible service which in turn benefits all our patients.
Ian adds: “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. We have also heavily invested in technology and telecommunications to provide information on all aspects of the patient journey and ensure effective dialogue between mobile staff and Control.”
The five year contracts to provide non-emergency patient transport services begin on 1 July 2016 and NWAS’ performance will be closely monitored by Commissioners, NWAS managers and, the Trust hopes, by the people who use the service – the patients themselves.
Allan Jude, Director of Ambulance Commissioning, Blackpool CCG commented: “The new contracts provide numerous quality improvements and ensure patients who need assistance and transport can receive a service that is both timely and of high quality.”
Says Ian: “Feedback from our patients is very important to us and to make this easier, we have further developed the user friendly website and will be providing leaflets which will clearly explain how patients can relay their experience of the service to us – whether that be a positive or negative one.
“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.”
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