Kent and Thanet wheelchair service, which has been under the spotlight in recent months for its patient waiting times, has claimed that the service is “showing signs of improvement” following a raft of new measures.
The contract is managed by NHS Thanet CCG and was commissioned out to Millbrook Healthcare in April 2017.
In September it was claimed that more than 2,000 patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks for equipment, compared with over 1,000 when Millbrook took over from the previous provider.
There had been calls from Kent Wheelchair Users’ Group for the contract to be terminated but Thanet CCG said that it was not that simple and that it was determined to work with Millbrook to “resolve contract challenges” to secure the best outcome for patients.
Millbrook and the CCG have now formed the Kent and Medway Service User Improvement Group, which will work with commissioners and the wheelchair service provider to ensure their concerns are listened to and the waiting list is reduced.
Both organisations have agreed an improvement plan, with an extra £2m to go towards changes. More than a dozen new members of staff have been recruited by Millbrook.
So far, the number of people waiting for a wheelchair repair has reduced by half, from 461 in July to 229 in September, according to commissioners.
An update of this work was shared at a recent meeting with Helen Whately MP, Damian Green MP and Kent County Councillor, Roger Gough.
Caroline Selkirk, managing director for the four east Kent CCGs, said: “We are really very excited to be working closely with service users through the Service User Improvement Group to oversee Millbrook Healthcare’s delivery of their improvement plan.
“There are already early signs of service performance and quality improvement, and we shall continue to monitor these rigorously over the coming months as we know there is more to do to make sure all users receive an excellent service.
“We’ve had a very positive meeting with MPs who were pleased to see how we are working with service users to bring about the necessary changes.
“They were keen to understand the complexities in running such a service and the challenges we face. While these early signs are positive, we will carry on working with Millbrook Healthcare and service users to deliver a service we can all be proud of.”
Phillip Campling, managing director for Millbrook Healthcare, said: “By working in partnership with the NHS CCGs throughout Kent, we have now formed a service user group to help drive our improvements forward.
“Ensuring our service users, their families and carers remain at the heart of our service is our priority and we are looking forward to delivering ongoing service improvements with the user group and all our stakeholders.”