AN investigation into the problems that occurred when a private firm took over Dorset’s non-emergency patient transport will take place tomorrow.

Representatives from seven different bodies will appear before the Dorset Health Scrutiny Panel to give evidence as to why the handover to E-zec was so chaotic.

But the panel will also hear of recent improvements made in the service offered to patients, partly because E-zec were given extra funds to increase staff and vehicle numbers.

E-zec was awarded the contract by the NHS Dorset Clinical Comm-issioning Group (CCG) last June and took over from former operators South Western Ambulance Service in October.

However, there were problems from the outset, with patients complaining about ambulances being delayed or not turning up at all and criticising E-zec’s customer service.

Members of the scrutiny panel will receive reports from the NHS Dorset CCG, E-zec, South Western Amb-ulance Service, Dorset County Hospital, Dorset HealthCare Univer-sity NHS Foundation Trust, Healthwatch Dorset and Dorset Advocacy.

E-zec’s report highlights a variety of reasons for initial problems, including the fact they were given incorrect mileage data, which resulted in them under-estimating the distance they would cover, and difficulty in obtaining employment information for transferring staff.

They also claim they struggled to get pre-booked journey information and, when they did get it, found much of it to be “inaccurate and ultimately unusable.”

Their report adds that when the service went live, E-zec received nearly four times the forecasted number of weekday calls and, even after bringing in contingency measures, could not answer them all.

In October 2013, E-zec received 115 complaints – 0.78 per cent of completed journeys – but this has steadily reduced to just 16 in April 2014 – 0.12 per cent of completed journeys.

Healthwatch’s report said of the comments they had collected, two per cent were positive, 78 per cent negative and 20 per cent mixed.

But its report concludes: “In our discussions with both E-zec and the CCG we have been pleased by the single focus and commitment shown by both sides on improving the service and reaching the high standards which patients and the public have a right to expect.”

In March this year, councillors on Dorset County Council labelled the transfer “diabolical” and a “gargantuan failure”.

At that time, dialysis patient William Bownes, 72, pictured above left, said: “I’m not surprised by the report.

“I’m only surprised it hasn’t come to light before now.”