Quicker responses to patients to combat high complaint figures

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A new emergency care service has been improved to combat a high number of complaints from patients.

SECAmb (South East Coast Ambulance) has made robust changes to improve response times after it received a total of 156 complaints about 999, 111 and PTS (Patient Transport Service)services in April and May this year.

These figures were revealed during a public meeting of the Crawley CCG (Clinical Comissioning Group) chaired by Dr Amit Bhargava, on Thursday (September 19)

A spokesperson for SECAmb said most complaints regarded the new 111 telephone service, introduced in Sussex in March 2013, which patients are advised to use for non-urgent medical help or advice.

The service received a higher volume of calls than expected when it was first introduced, particularly during the weekends, causing calls to be kept in queues or to be abandoned.

This lead to 79 formal complaints in April and 77 in May - about double the usual amount.

A spokesperson for SECAmb said more staff have been employed to improve response times and this has contributed to a reduction in complaints - 44 recorded in August.

A quality of care report referred to in the CCG meeting showed the number of calls abandoned had greatly decreased since May and the majority of call wait times are now within seven minutes.

A SECAmb spokesperson said: “We work hard to respond to all complaints as quickly as possible and are pleased that we have improved our performance in this area since April.

“In all aspects of our service patient safety is our top priority. SECAmb and Harmoni worked hard to take action and address any issues which were identified in the early weeks of the March staged launch in our region.

“We are also working hard to address any concerns raised over the Patient Transport Service we provide in parts of our region.

“Our work has involved adjusting rotas and improving vehicle provision to better match supply to demand.”