News : Thames UK Apologises After Patients Describe Ambulance Service as ‘Chaos'
Lincolnshire, UK, Oct 5, 2016 -- The new company responsible for operating the non-emergency ambulance service in North Lincolnshire has apologised after patients complained about problems with phone lines and described the service as "chaos".
Thames UK took over running the service from previous provider East Midlands Ambulance Service on Saturday, October 1.
One woman, who relies on the service to get to appointments as she is in a wheelchair, missed a dental appointment on Monday after an ambulance failed to turn up.
Carole Rylatt, 58, from Brigg was due to have a dental appointment at Ironstone medical centre in Scunthorpe.
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"My appointment was at 1.30pm but that came and went.
"At 2.10 somebody rang from the ambulance and said they were about to leave Scunthope."
She said that by that point it was too late and she had missed her appointment. Mrs Rylatt said that incidents like this add to an already strained health service.
Mrs Rylatt said: "A consultant was sat there waiting for me to turn up because the ambulance can't get to me.
"I can't just go to my local dentist because my wheelchair won't get through the door.
"It has been chaos."
Mrs Rylatt will now have to wait until December before she can get a dental appointment for toothache that she said she has been suffering with for two months.
Other patients have also contacted the Scunthorpe Telegraph saying they have experienced problems with the service and have had difficulties contacting Thames UK.
A spokesman for Thames UK said: "Thames Group UK is aware of the difficulties patients have experienced in contacting our call centre and sincerely apologises to any patients who have been affected by this situation.
"Unprecedented demand on our call centre meant the telephone system was temporarily unable to cope with the volume of calls. Thames Group are monitoring the situation very closely and are working with Commissioners to understand any underlying issues that may have generated such a significant surge from the historical trend. We are taking immediate steps to rectify the situation.
"Furthermore we have moved additional vehicles and crew from our other bases to Northern Lincolnshire as a contingency measure should the excessive call volume translate into higher than expected demand for transport.
"We are confident of our ability to deliver a high quality service to local patients."
NHS North and North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups announced Thames UK would be the new provider in April this year.
NHS funded Patient Transport Services (PTS) are there to help people get to their hospital appointments when they are too poorly or are physically unable to get there otherwise.
A spokeswoman for North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: "NHS North and NHS North East Lincolnshire CCGs are actively working with the new provider Thames UK to ensure robust plans are in place to fully resolve the initial technical difficulties encountered with the telephone booking system.
"We are confident progress has been made to rectify the problem and the CCGs will continue to work with the new provider to ensure the service is operating effectively.
"PTS exists to help people get to their hospital appointments when they are too unwell or are physically unable to get there otherwise.
"This is a vital service and both CCGs would be happy to hear from any patients who have encountered difficulties with their transport since the new contract began on October 1."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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