IAA responds to critics of independent ambulance services

Monday, 28 April, 2014

The IAA today (28 April 2014) published a perspective of independent ambulance services in England which it claims is largely misunderstood, therefore often misquoted and misrepresented by its critics in Parliament, the public healthcare establishment and particularly in the media.

The key points are:

  • The market is highly complex with the NHS and independent the main providers, charities becoming more serious commercial competitors and commissioners awarding contracts largely on price;
  • Independent companies provide a range of non-emergency patient transport services but are regularly called in by NHS ambulance trusts when their emergency 999 response times are under pressure because of lack of resources, to fill the gap between recruitment and retention, and to provide an ongoing level of service in less accessible areas;
  • NHS and independent providers are regulated by the Government’s Care Quality Commission and held to the same standards of care as NHS ambulance trusts; if they fail to do so, the CQC has the power to take action against them;  they are also equally regulated by Monitor, the healthcare economic regulatory body;

Lastly it argues in detail why

  • Standards in the private ambulance sector are as high as the NHS;
  • Private ambulance people are as well trained or as qualified as those in the NHS:
  • Private ambulance costs are generally lower than the NHS for the same service;
  • The use of private companies for emergency work does not put patients’ safety at risk;
  • Private ambulance services are not the ‘back door’ privatisation of the NHS.

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