Star date: 10th April 2013


`We are sorry for any distress this may have caused' Arriva

In Part One, the Salford Star revealed how Arriva Transport Solutions, which took over from the publicly owned North West Ambulance Service at the beginning of April, had driven a frail lady almost to the end of her physical tether.

Here we print the full story in e-mails we received from the woman's daughter cataloguing one disaster after another – with reactions from Arriva and the NHS.

Full details here…

For a full background, please read Part One – click here…

Last Saturday, 6th April, the Salford Star received an urgent email from Caroline Connelly, seriously worried about her mother, Annette's treatment by Arriva Transport Solutions, which had just taken over the non-emergency patient transport service, from the public North West Ambulance Service.

Here we re-print Caroline's e-mails, almost in full, plus reactions from Arriva and the NHS…

Sent on Saturday 6th April

Dear Salford Star

I am writing this email to you as I feel you are the most appropriate person to come to with mine, and my mother's, story following your article in November 2012 regarding Arriva taking over Manchester patient ambulance service.

Arriva took over my mother's patient transport to haemodialysis appointments on Tuesday 2nd April. The first shambles that occurred was as soon as they turned up they told us they had nowhere to store my mother's wheelchair unless she was to sit in it. This in itself does not seem like a big deal but my mother is very frail, very shaky, extremely nervous and will not even sit in her wheelchair in a taxi on the way home from the local shops.

Then, following this, they didn't even know their way to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, my mother had to direct them. My mother then asked if they had had any training at all because letters we received from the hospital stated all Arriva staff were first aid trained. They said they had no training, it was their first day, they then took my mother to the wrong entrance distressing my mother more.

Then, when taking my mother through the hospital to the renal unit they decided to stop and chat to people they knew leaving my mother helpless and anxiously waiting, so much so my mother had to ask them to please take her to her appointment. If this was not bad enough once she had finished dialysis my mother, along with nine other dialysis patients, was left waiting from 6pm to 8pm for an Arriva bus to bring her home. When the ward clerk couldn't get hold of anyone at Arriva, after trying for nearly an hour, they put all ten patients in Mantax black cabs to come home.

I wish I could say these were the only incidents of incompetence we have had to suffer but I'm afraid this is the tip of the iceberg.

I emailed the company to complain, asking them to look into their shambolic service, to which I received an email telling me they couldn't process the complaint without a written consent form being filled out by me and my mother and being witnessed by another 3rd party who was not a family member…

…Thursday's transport was even worse. The letter we received from the hospital also stated that Arriva taking over transport would result in higher efficiency and shorter waiting times - so I was appalled when Arriva turned up at 11:30am to pick my mother up for a 2pm dialysis slot. She is diabetic and can't eat while on the dialysis machines as it makes her ill. She already has lunch early Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday because of going in for dialysis, and her old transport didn't pick her up until between 12:10 and 1pm for her 2pm dialysis slot. I had to turn the Arriva ambulance away because I refused to send her hungry. We then had to phone the hospital who said Arriva wouldn't come back.

My mother then worked herself into a state and the hospital ended up sending a taxi yet again. Following my mother's dialysis finishing she was given a sandwich and drink, and was left to wait for the Arriva service to arrive. She was ready for collection at 5:45pm but when the transport still hadn't shown at 6:45pm my mother began working herself up again, resulting in the hospital phoning a taxi for her for a third time.

My mother was then put in the taxi and, when part way home, began to suffer from a hypoglycaemic attack. When she arrived home she was extremely shaky, irritable and barely comprehensible, even after I administered one of her hypo stop remedies and gave her a fizzy drink. Her dinner was also ready and I gave it her but she was in such a bad way she couldn't eat or drink and kept drifting in and out of consciousness. I phoned the ward who advised me to phone an ambulance, rather than wait in case she got worse.

I wholly believe this is nobody's fault except Arriva's, as this has never happened before. And if it weren't for her prolonged waiting time coming home I believe it wouldn't happened on Thursday evening either. My mother was still suffering yesterday, Friday as a result of Thursday's hypo…

…I emailed Arriva stating these circumstances to them and complaining again of the utter disgust I felt at the state my mother came home in on Thursday evening because of their complete lack of care, and asked them how a company who couldn't even run a public bus service was allowed to bid for a hospital contract, let alone win it. To which I have received no response.

I really want to get this story out in the media as I feel that the way my mother has been treated is worse than you would treat a animal, and after reading your November article I'm sure there are more people in the region who have suffered at the hands of Arriva's incompetence.

Sent later on Saturday…

Also just a quick update regarding transport to the hospital for my mother. Today Arriva haven't bothered to show, for which reason I do not know. A black cab from Mantax has just shown up to take my mother to the hospital, on the hospital account. And while my mother is a lot happier that it isn't Arriva at the door I really fail to see how by giving this contract to Arriva it is saving the NHS money, as the hospital has now paid for 4 out of 5 trips to dialysis or home for my mother.

Sent later on Saturday…

Just another quick update for you. My mother was sent home by taxi from the MRI. We have had no word from Arriva at all today and while my mother was on the unit today patients were arriving late by taxi, as Arriva hadn't sent a bus for them. Some taxis, apparently, were paid for by Arriva but my mother's driver told her the hospital had booked her taxi.

Sent on Wednesday morning… after the Salford Star contacted Caroline to say that Arriva had produced a quote and were `sorry'…

My mum had a heart attack yesterday and is currently critical in the MRI on ventilators. It's nice to know they're sorry it just may in this case be sorry far too late…

Yours through bloodshot eyes
Caroline Connelly



Jonathan May, managing director of specialist transport provider Arriva Transport Solutions, said: "We are sorry to hear that Mrs Connelly is unhappy with the service she received from ATSL. We take patient complaints extremely seriously and will undertake a full investigation.  We will share the findings of this with the patient and their relatives.

"Last week we transferred 330 former North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust employees to ATSL and they transported more than 7000 patients to their hospital appointments.

 "We are aware that some patients did wait longer than they should have and we are sorry for any distress this may have caused.  On the occasions where this happened, we maintained close dialogue with the hospitals to ensure that those patients affected were still able to attend their appointments. 

"Improving the experience for patients and reducing delays is our main priority. Through focused planning, we have already helped to reduce travelling times for many patients and we are committed to introducing further improvements in the future. We have also received positive feedback from a number of patients complimenting the professionalism of people and welcoming the new, more comfortable vehicles."

 "We have invested some £4 million in new bespoke ambulances and £1 million in upgrading technology in readiness for us starting to provide Great Manchester's non-emergency patient transport services (PTS) from last Monday (1 April). 

"Every year we will be helping some 500,000 patients get to and from their hospital appointment, so we have worked closely with all employees, the NHS and patient groups to make the transition to Arriva as seamless as possible."

An Arriva Transport Solutions spokesperson added: "We have a robust complaints policy and this does require the consent of the patient in order for an investigation to be undertaken. We are in dialogue with this patient so will not be able to provide specific details relating to her care.

"All vehicles have satellite navigation systems installed that can help them navigate to hospitals and patients' homes, and all staff have received first aid training" she added "In the interim, in making changes to the way the contract is being delivered, we have authorised some use of taxis to supplement our crews in order to ensure that patients are taken to and from their appointments. The cost of these will be met by ATSL, not the hospitals."


The Salford Star asked the NHS Blackpool, Lead Commissioners for Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services in the North West, which awarded Arriva Transport Solutions the contract, the following questions…

Q: Is the hospital having to call private taxi services to fill the Arriva gaps/missed appointments?

A: Arriva will provide the most appropriate mode of transport for the patient including taxi's to ensure all patients are delivered to and from their appointments.

Q: Is the hospital having to pay for these taxis as well as the contract with Arriva?

A: Where the patient is eligible for Patient Transport the costs are met by the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Greater Manchester with Arriva.

Q: Who actually gave the contract for these transport services to Arriva and are there penalties if they fail to deliver?

A: Following a robust competitive tender process and evaluation of potential providers against a service specification developed through extensive engagement with stakeholders including patients, clinical networks and acute provider trusts Arriva Transport solutions were awarded the three year Greater Manchester contract by the then ten Greater Manchester Primary Care Trusts. The contract contains key performance measures which Arriva as the Provider is expected to meet. If these key performance indicators are not met then Arriva will not receive part of the contractual payment.

Q: What would the hospital say to this woman and her daughter given the distress they have been put through?

A: Arriva are responsible for the delivery of Patient Transport Services and will follow a full investigation and respond directly to the woman and her daughter.

* Main photo shows Annette Connelly in better times, with grand daughter Kiera Connelly.

UPDATE: 17th April 2013

Annette Connelly, the lady featured in this article, unfortunately died this morning. The Salford Star's thoughts go out to the family.

UPDATE: 24th April 2013

Just got a message in from Caroline who is trying to trace one of her mother's friends...

"I was wondering if the is any way your readers could help. I'm trying to locate a friend of my mums who she grew up with, and was really close to, until she got ill. Her name is Helen Fahey she lived at Park Avenue, Timperley with her husband John, son John, daughter Kathy son Craig and son Michael.

She was a childminder and may still be a childminder I think her daughter Kathy married a man named Kevin Legg and bought a house in Broadheath after their wedding.

Kathy attended blessed Thomas Holford High School Altrincham, and Craig and Michael attended St Ambrose. I think Helen lived next door to her sister, they also had a pot bellied pig as a pet named Dotty. Her husband John used to drink in the Cheshire Cheese pub in Altrincham. I want to try and do things right by mum Mrs Annette Connelly, who was Annette Lynch before she married my dad but Helen would know her under either name."

If anyone can help please contact info@salfordstar.com

Amanda wrote
at 15:23:26 on 05 September 2017
My mum had an appointment at 10 today, were still waiting they said they picking us up at 3 ( the hospital will still see her). Is there nothing can be done about this very poor services, surely if we all got together, we could demand a better service for our elderly. If anyone has got any suggestions please email me. My transport is southwest based.
Caburn wrote
at 10:10:42 on 05 August 2017
Arriva have been given chance after chance. Their performance is getting worse. Why is the NHS paying into such a truly awful service! Why are they supporting them? It just beggars belief. Someone somewhere is doing well financially from it...
Anonymous wrote
at 07:02:18 on 02 April 2015
I work for arriva transport they lied to us by telling us that would be on £7.50 per hour no enhancements for working weekends & bank holiday's.we get £7.00 per hour ,no sick pay. They take on young people who know nothing about looking after people,they are always texting on their mobile phones or falling asleep in the back of the Ambulance.The management do not listen to us when we tell them of any problems they more interested in the money side of it.They do not give any concern about the patients.It should be called non arriva.I feel very sorry to all the patients who have to put up with this rubbish.Control do not listen to us on the ground we have listen to the general public moan to us and take a lot of abuse.One week of so called training one driving and rushed through first aid.Do not trust this Company they are just in it for the money not the public.It a German company not English.
Joan shaw wrote
at 16:52:35 on 20 February 2015
20/02/2015. Appointment at wrightington hospital today at 2.15pm.2.00pm arriva rang me can't get to you because of accident on motorway.if it wasn't serious I would laugh.time this service was given back to nhs
Local Arriva Transport Solutions Manager wrote
at 04:31:50 on 28 October 2014
First allow me to say. Tough on you miserable poor little hard done to people. Do you really think for one moment that we at arriva actually care one bit about your petty problems. All I care about is keeping my job.
dave gizzard wrote
at 06:28:01 on 08 February 2014
i work for arriva and believe me they give a real bad service to the patients because they simply cannot run an ambulance service they have 6 stations nwas had 56 stations just think of all that dead mileage . bring back nwas and quick
m h wrote
at 22:26:22 on 03 January 2014
As a PTS driver for NHS i can confirm that these issues also happen within the NHS trust ambulance services (pts) as well. Having said that when things do go wrong endeavours are made to rectify the mistakes. It is also worth pointing out that many delays are also caused by the clinics and departments within the hospitals who frequently run late causing patients to come out late and therefore resulting in the vehicles hanging around waiting for patients when they should be bringing the next lot in for their appointments. Private providers,regardless of what they may claim, are trained to a much lower level than their NHS counterparts. Often the private sector are only required to have a basic first aid certificate and then receive no further training until their certificate is due for renewal. NHS staff attend a 3 week FPOS course and undergo continual training at least once a year,often more, in addition they also have to pass a driving course up to IAM standards and undergo training in several disciplines including a day on the skid pan
anonymous wrote
at 10:12:37 on 13 October 2013
My father travels on arriva ambulances when they bother to turn up. Rude staff dirty vehicles and when i have spoken to the hispital about our experiences, the hospital says they have never seen any senior managers and those who have shown up at times show no signs of actually caring. As nothing has changed then i would have to agree with the hospital in that arriva should never have been allowed to take this service over and it should have remained public.
Jean Ridings wrote
at 11:17:58 on 27 September 2013
My son has a broken back, hip, pelvis, femur & other injuries, I have just been told by Arriva that he is not eligible for transport to & from hospital appointments & physio!!! he is capable of making his own way....is this a joke? The person on the end of the phone needs a charisma transplant, bet she gets transport when her appointment arrives.
Mohammed Aftab Bhatti wrote
at 07:10:31 on 27 September 2013
I have oldham council taxi wheelchair I need passenger
Ann Clough wrote
at 22:35:40 on 06 August 2013
After reading some of the incidents regarding the take over of the greater Manchester Ambulance service we felt we had to report the situation we encountered with my 93 year old mother in law. On the 1/8/13 we were advised to ring 999 by her GP due to problems with her diabetes ,her blood sugars were all over the place resulting in her being violently sick,totally lethargic and not able to drink or eat. 999 was called and we were informed they would be there as soon as possible,meanwhile she further deteriorated .they rung us to see how she was an hour later and we informed them of the current situation and her blood readings that were H1 ,they responded by saying somebody would be with us soon. 2 hours later they arrived . We gave them a summary of the situation only to be told that they did not know what H1 was we informed them that it was off the scale reading due to her sugars being to high. They did not appear to have any idea what to do!!!!!! And then they decided that they would get her to A/E????????!!!!!!!!! That was fine because at least then she would be in safe hands and they would know how to treat her. I went with my mother in law in the ambulance and asked the crew why it had taken so long to respond. "oh love I had to meet up with my mate in Sale and I was based in Stalybridge and get across yo him and then get to Swinton????????? I ask you! This must be at least 25 miles before they even get to us? He apologised and said this is the system!!!!! I am sorry this is not acceptable,peoples lives are at stake,bearing in mind we did say on the phone that we would take my mother in law to A/E in the car and was advised not to. The other issue being they had no idea where the hospital was and kept on saying oh I have to get this paperwork completed before we arrive at A/E. I do accept this may not appear to have been a red light job but we just wanted advise on what to do to help my poor mother in law who was almost drifting into a semi conscious state which we were later informed was due to her erratic blood sugars. Something has to be done about this situation!!!!!!!! We are going to peruse this complaint ,as what do the elderly population who have nobody do they have nobody to advocate for them. I do not feel it it is the ambulance crews fault they are stuck in a system they cannot change,I am sorry but something has to change.this is not acceptable and we will forward this onto our M.P
David Johnson wrote
at 09:43:55 on 18 July 2013
It seems 3 months in, Arriva are still taking bookings and failing to pick up patients at all and some hospitals are having to bed patients down over night, Although we are all being quick to blame Arriva, some of the blame belongs to the PCT in Blackpool as we for one private ambulance service was excluded from tendering because we only wanted to tender for work from certain hospitals that we knew we could maintain a level of service, we knew that to take on an entire area would mean we probably would have failed to meet demands like Arriva Have. They should put the tender out for each hospital therefore allowing smaller independant services to obtain the contracts where patient care is foremost not profits. SO although as a private Service provider i would love Arriva to fail i feel they are not wholly responsible for the failing. Also i read in the papers all about the Failing of Ambulance services but why do i not read about a Ambulance crew in the snow Dug a pathway to ensure the patient got home, we are all too quick to point out the negatives of companies rather than the positives.
owener of a private ambulance service wrote
at 07:30:12 on 17 June 2013
right 1st arriva had a ambulance contract about 4 years ago and lost it they messed up big time. now they have bought out a private ambulance company called ambuline. they was the 1 of the biggest ambulance services (private) in the uk they did emergency and non emergency work all over the uk. now arriva bought them out and left ambuline running it it will take months for then to get the changes right but give them chance. private company's are poping up everywere st john doing 999 and red cross which is not good belive me arriva will get it right but gove them chance. also a ambulance service does not need cqc to operate so who ever said that is wrong. I own 29 emergency ambulances and only just become cqc 2 years ago I have been running 5 years. think this is a story off a family who has been through a bad time and wanted to blame somebody. also 1 hour aint bad in hull its about 3 to 4 hours after appointment
martin fielding wrote
at 19:07:46 on 15 June 2013
only 2 months in to Arriva contract and the professional complainers are out, for god sake give them a chance. New Ambulances, and your not telling me new staff have not had any training rubbish . I went on a st johns first aid course from my works and the trainer had just spent a week with new recruits from Arriva . Its sad about the old lady but you cant lay that at Arriva's feet, if my mother was'nt happy i would of took her myself.
nhs nurse wrote
at 04:39:37 on 09 May 2013
I work in a local ED in the north west and we now have to admit patients after 11pm as there is NO transport home whatsoever,so people who have had a minor bump to the head for example now use an acute bed as most are elderly and we cannot get them back to their nursing homes etc !! Bring back our nhs pts now
Michael Felse wrote
at 11:26:17 on 05 May 2013
"New Starter" thank you for your inside view. My main outside view is one of grave concern that even if the staff were transferred across their back-up from wide ranges of professional support is not going to be in place at the same level of quality. Your comment on the control room appears to add more concern. As one that has needed to call out ambulances early morning for relatives take it from me our needs for fast and professional delivery is essential.
New starter wrote
at 12:17:02 on 04 May 2013
95% of the staff on the pts are ex-nwas staff who have transferred over so they are all fully trained.The new starters like myself have all had first aid training. The problems I Can see at the moment are in the control room with the way work is planned the day before. The crews have no control over where they are sent,this is down to the planners.
Another Private Ambulance driver wrote
at 14:15:45 on 01 May 2013
Sorry to hear about all the mistakes that Arriva are making, however we all new that they could not fulfill the job and role they were asked to do, After doing some investigation i can see that Arriva are concentrating on some certain hospitals on a daily basis, i visited four hospitals in one day last week and counted at least 16 Arriva PTS ambulances at Salford Royal, none at Wigan, 1 at Wythenshaw 11 at Bolton General, when they are missing the other hospitals out they then try and book private companys to help out and pull them out the S**T, how much is it costing Arriva to book private ambulance company's from east Yorkshire and also Lancaster to cover Wigan RAEI when they cant cover it themselves
P Lumb wrote
at 17:50:51 on 24 April 2013
Sincere sympathy to the family. Regretfully standards are slipping. The new drivers have had no training. I recently spoke to a crew who were concerned about it. No one wants to speak out though.
Joy Miller wrote
at 17:05:58 on 22 April 2013
We were informed by the outgoing transport services that the, frankly ridiculous,duty of care pick up from hospital times would be reduced from 90mins to 30mins.This hasn't happened.We had a situation for example today where my husband had to wait over an hour after coming off his dialysis because they wanted to take him home at the same time as a lady who was off her machine at a later time,another day they picked up him and another patient up and drove PAST the hospital to pick someone else up on the other side of town making them all late.My husband transfered from Salford to Rochdale because he was told travel would be quicker as we only live 15mins drive from the hospital but it has not proved to be the case,he also has an additional condition making it important for him to get home asap as it can mean the bus staff won't take him as it looks like he's having a stroke and this puts more pressure on the ward staff till I can sort.As I write this I am awaiting a phone call from Arriva to discuss the situation.
Gordon Brown wrote
at 14:19:03 on 21 April 2013
Well, as long as the mistake was acknowledged by Arriva, thats ok then is it? What was wrong with keeping it within the NHS may i ask? I hope everyone is aware Arriva is 100% owned by the German State Transport System!
peter leonard wrote
at 07:19:34 on 16 April 2013
Like the above comment....give arriva a chance!!! None of these things happened when the transport was run by nwas did it?? At the end of the day a majority of atsl staff are existing staff transferred across from nwas!
A private ambulance worker wrote
at 14:24:00 on 11 April 2013
I'm so sorry to read this story there are some fantastic private ambulance companies out there but this is not one of them. The company i work takes pride in how they treat patient. Any complaints like this should be passed on to the care quality commission they grant licences to operate as a ambulance company
W C COOPER wrote
at 11:54:38 on 11 April 2013
Hitches ? No patient should be treated in this grossly incompetent and neglectful manner . Arriva are just another company solely profit-motivated . Patient care is an inconvenience in this pursuit .
Bernard Brough wrote
at 11:54:35 on 11 April 2013
That company can't even run a bus service & now peoples lives are in their hands. Another example of the great privatisation rip off.
not happy wrote
at 21:10:08 on 10 April 2013
I was at meeting last year when they said the P T S would be privatized and be put out tender nobody new who was going to take over N H S then panel who was running the meeting asked if there was any company that was capable of taking over from the N H S, nobody new the answer, but I bet the panel did then people started asking questions one was what happens if the company doesn’t fulfill its contract i.e. by not picking people up on time for there appointments, or by leaving them at hospital, or like other things I have heard sorry we can’t take you in a wheel chair because we are not insured to get out of ambulance and push you, what are they supposed to do they are ambulance drivers not bus drivers, the answer we got was they would be find and if they carried on not fulfilling there contract the N H S trust would not pay them. Now we know arvia has got the contract so I wonder if this will stay the same be cause I can’t see Arvia doing this for nothing because of there track record they are bound to make more cock ups,
John Smart wrote
at 21:09:59 on 10 April 2013
A sorry tale for the Connelly family and acknowledged by Arriva.But give Arriva a chance! They only started the service on 1st April and it would be naive for anyone to think that a contract of this size could commence (overnight) without any hitches!
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