Future Healthcare

Is your ambulance OK?

Alarm bells are ringing over the state of independent ambulance services, following a Care Quality Commission investigation. Sally Taber, director of the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS), puts the spotlight on the problems and gives a check list for ambulance service purchasers to get a safe service for their patients.

Many smaller healthcare enterprises, particularly those operating outside the NHS, use independent ambulance service providers.

I fear they may inadvertently be introducing undesirable risks for their patients and for their own practice if they do not thoroughly check standards of delivery.

On the 31 January 2019, there were 246 independent ambulance service providers registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), covering 286 locations.

These ambulance service providers are robustly independent businesses, highly individual and intensely competitive. Three trade associations compete for their membership and have in the past been resistant to imposed regulation. 

Compared to the modern healthcare scene, many providers come across as quaintly scatty and rather badly out of date in matters of best patient care. The independent ambulance services sector is often short on healthcare knowledge and practises, and the result is increased risk for patients and those who have them in their care.