“New ‘cowboy’ ambulance law too late” – Larrey Society Founder

Monday, 30 March, 2015


The new law designed to ban “cowboy” ambulance companies which comes into effect this week (1st April 2015) is welcome but simply too little too late, says David Davis, Founder of The Larrey Society, the first cross sector “think tank” for emergency medical services.

Under the law companies applying for registration as well as existing PTS providers will have to satisfy the Care Quality Commission that they are not managed or controlled by individuals who present an unacceptable risk either to the organisation or to people receiving the service.

The law is aimed at ensuring that directors are fit and proper to assume responsibility for the overall quality and safety of care delivered. To check and monitor companies and the people that own them the CQC will use test similar to the one applied by the HMRC in the management of charities and the aviation sector.

At the appointment stage or afterwards the records of company directors will be checked for any instances of serious misconduct and mismanagement which could include assault, fraud, theft, breaches of health and safety regulations, intoxication while on duty, any breach of confidentiality, disobedience of lawful and reasonable instruction, and disrespect in the workplace.

Davis said: “The new law is appropriately tough and gives the regulators the powers to prevent ‘cowboy’ companies operating regulated ambulance services. For the first time it gives them the authority to check the backgrounds of the people who actually own these companies as well as the individuals who run them on a day to day basis. If they don’t pass the ‘fit and proper person’ test the application for registration will be refused or withdrawn from existing providers at any time later.

”Any action which seeks to keep out disreputable individuals and companies and will make the patient experience safer and more caring is to be welcome.

“Sadly, however, the CQC’s action is too late and if introduced when ambulance companies were first brought into regulation in April 2011 it would have prevented a number of ‘cowboy’ companies in their tracks which damaged the reputation of the private sector. Since regulation and the introduction of the inspection regime the performance the majority of independent ambulance providers have received high ratings by the CQC.

“The CQC challenge is to make sure that the new law is applied rigorously with a commitment to swift action and zero tolerance when breaches have been uncovered.”

Membership of The Larrey Society is free. Apply www.thelarreysociety.org

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