Ambulance Watch: Blow for East of England Ambulance Service after losing non-emergency transport contract

The East of England Ambulance Service has lost its Patient Transport Service to a private provider. The East of England Ambulance Service has lost its Patient Transport Service to a private provider.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
8:10 AM

The region’s ambulance service has received a fresh blow after losing the contract for a non-emergency transport service in Norfolk.

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Union officials have condemned the decision by commissioners, which will see Patient Transport Services (PTS) being moved from the East of England Ambulance Service to a private company.

Around 100 people work for the service in Norfolk, which will be transferred to ERS Medical in October. The private firm, which has its headquarters in Leeds, has offices in Norwich.

The PTS provides a vital lifeline for patients who are frail or need specialist assistance, to and from appointments at hospitals, treatment centres and other health related facilities.

The decision to change providers was made by the Clinical Commissioning Groups for Norwich, North Norfolk, South Norfolk and West Norfolk.

Liz McEwan, head of non-emergency services at the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “The existing non-emergency patient transport service contract for Norfolk was due to expire this year, and four clinical commissioning groups (CCG) in Norfolk put the service out to tender.”

“We put in a strong bid to run this service, as we believe we’re best placed to run patient transport and deliver quality services to patients. We have been proud to run it since EEAST was established in 2006 and I would like to thank the excellent staff whose hard work and dedication made the service what it was over the past eight years.

“However, unfortunately we were not successful and are working with staff to ensure they are supported through the transition to the new provider.”

The ambulance service holds contracts to provide non-emergency patient transport in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. It’s PTS makes about 1.1 million journeys every year.

The decision to privatise the service has been criticised by unions.

Fraer Stevenson, Unison branch secretary East of England Ambulance Branch, said: “PTS staff are devastated by the news, many have worked for the NHS for a number of years - they are an integral part of our ambulance service.”

“The trust provides a high quality service transporting vulnerable patients to and from hospital. Patients report a high level of satisfaction with the service they currently receive. I fear this will not be the case if these services are run by private providers who are primarily concerned with making profits for shareholders.”

“It’s very disappointing the commissioners have chosen to award the contract to ERS. Undercutting costs to win contracts must mean cutting corners, and that will ultimately lead to patients losing out. In other areas of the country awarding NHS contracts to private companies has lead to a deterioration in standards and poor service delivery to patients. Our members are very concerned and upset - they care deeply about the work they do and feel proud to be part of the NHS.”

“The trust needs the support of its commissioners, especially when confidence is building following the appointment of Anthony Marsh as CEO in January.”

About 115,000 PTS journeys were undertaken in 2013/14 across Norfolk.

Jon Bryson, chairman of South Norfolk CCG, which led the procurement, said ERS Medical was an experienced organisation which runs NHS transport services across the UK. He added the NHS was required by law to carry out a full recommissioning process and that there was a full and rigorous clinical evaluation of bids.

“Those patients who are eligible will continue to receive a high quality, free transport service.

“In addition, the new service will cost less to run, which means we can spend the money we have saved on other areas of patient care,” he said.

What are your experiences of PTS in Norfolk? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

23 comments

  • It's a sad day for the NHS, just how much more will the goverment do. All are as bad as each other ! What's next Fire and the Police going private why not ? I ve seen some of these private ambulance service at work, and some are playing with life's, with little underpinning knowlage. Footyboy16, carefull what you wish for as it may be a Private ambulance looking after you one day, you choose ! no emergency service is safe ! Ambulance, Police or Fire. RIP NHS.

    Report this comment

    DAVE !

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • No mention by EEAS or the union of the volunteer drivers who carry out about half the PTS journeys. Thanks for nothing.

    Report this comment

    Sugarbeet

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • It was the bright idea of the present Government.

    Report this comment

    Dictate

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • hang on you are missing the point the contract they lost is for P.T.S patient transport service (non-emergency)

    Report this comment

    beanpole

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Its the inevitable road to getting rid of the NHS.

    Report this comment

    Andy Hall

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Footyboy16 - do you have a axe to grinned ... Ex FIRE if I remember right ! Question: how many fire need to attended a car crash ? Most of the time it's reported 3... How and why so many ? When there's no fire.... That a lot of people standing around. If we have them sitting around ... Do the Amb service have the same amount doing the same. May be the FIRE need to do more ? Public service needs to service it's public ... Value of money Stop trying to wind up the Amb service , that's all your doing ...

    Report this comment

    DAVE !

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • The NHS is being sold off,bit by bit,fragmented and privatised,each a step towards an insurance based system.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Kennard ,you are merely stating the obvious in a very,very long winded way. Of course the NHS relies on suppliers for all of its equipment. However in this instance a private company has replaced an NHS service. The cleaning service was privatised years ago and it is no coincidence that the poor basic cleanliness of hospitals has contibuted to poor care. Time and time again inspections have proved this There are several NHS hospitals in private hands. Cameron was quick to force through parliament a law upping " private " access to NHS faclilties from 3% to 49%. Cameron and the Tories have long term plans to give the golden goose called the NHS to the private sector. The dire finanacial straits that the hospitals are in is because of the PPI hospital financing introduced by a Tory government. Hospitals that should have cost 2-300 million each have ended up costing a billion or so . Who ended up with those billions? All of course funded by the taxpayer. The NHS is being privatised piece by piece and this ambulance service is part of the process. Privatisation is a word interchangable with Profit. The NHS is a shambles due to political interference and not enough control of it resources. Too many fingers in the pie.

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Putting the most vulnerable people in the care of the lowest tender, whose bright idea was that ?

    Report this comment

    Reader

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • hang on you are missing the point the contract they lost is for P.T.S patient transport service (non-emergency)

    Report this comment

    beanpole

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • As someone who works for the NHS, i have had the experience of NHS and private patient transfers, and unfortunatley Trust PTS has let us down more than once, and we have had to rely on private crews to complete SAFE patient transfers. Maybe we need to be asking one question, if EEAS PTS is so good, why were they not given the contract. I dont believe its all about money at all. No one wants to see the NHS fail, its part of what Britain is, However if an adequate service cant be provided, then management has no choice but to go elsewhere. We dont slate hospitals for using agency nurses, yet they are called in more times than you think to fill the gaps when the wards are short staffed, and quite frankly they are a god send. Patients are NOT put at risk just because the transfer providers are a private company, in many cases (not all, some Private services need firing into space on a rusty rocket!) the staff are trained to a higher quality because their management has more money to put towards training, where as the NHS are being forced to cut corners by the government and their awfull budgeting. ERS are a good, well structured company, and many of the staff i have met are professional, caring and skilled to within their job role.

    Report this comment

    pixie

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • So footyboy16 you have a lot to say, hope u never need us. Pratt

    Report this comment

    edifir

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Its the inevitable road to getting rid of the NHS.

    Report this comment

    Andy Hall

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Ref "Edifir" replying to "Hope you never need us" thats the whole point I did and the Ambulance service was useless and it was not on one occasion not on two occasions and not 3 but 4 occasions the first occasion was when an ambulance was called to a village 3 miles outside Diss. couldn't even find it !! that resulted in one death. second occasion same address elderly person falled in garden Ambulance sent from Norwich second death. 3 occasion middle aged woman in Tesco's Harford Bridge Norwich, chest pains, dizziness, headache,nose bleed, 3 hours later no ambulance and the person was told not to move from where they lay, eventually gave up and was moved to A&E and now suffers from the delay, 4th Occason elderly man had hip operation and released from hospital and had worrying pains and blood lose,he had no transport and lived opposite the UEA, 2 hours later the Ambulance turns up !! unexceptable.. the Ambulance services wants to do what the fire service does, try learning Topography !!! don't worry you won't be called again !!!

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • David Kennard...i don't think anyone was under the impression that the NHS manufactured , researched and developed its own drugs or made its own equipment That is not what anyone looks upon as privatisation of the NHS...a complete red herring . Has the sky fallen in from handing over NHS services to the private sector ? For a number of people it has actually killed them . The handing over of GP out of hours services to the private sector 10 years ago has been a disaster ...resulting in many deaths. The involvement of private finance initiatives in hospital construction and maintenance services is already a scandal which will get worse as the debts mount. There are any number of recorded cases where the outsourcing of NHS services has led to incompetence , inefficiency , preventable death and corrupt practices.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Lowest tender , lowest quality of service .

    Report this comment

    dragonfly

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • At least some people will make it to hospital if the EEAS has lost this contract. as the EEAS is flippin useless...

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • No mention by EEAS or the union of the volunteer drivers who carry out about half the PTS journeys. Thanks for nothing.

    Report this comment

    Sugarbeet

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • So the EEAS has lost the pts contract. They are like any other organization who has the chance to bid. They lost happens everyday. At least the new company should be given a chance. The EEAS has been knocked enough by this paper and so lets have new blood. At least they will bring newer vehicles than some what are being used for the same role bythe current proovider. On the flip side it frees up money to improve front line ambulance service

    Report this comment

    norfolkandgood

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • So footyboy16 you have a lot to say, hope u never need us. Pratt

    Report this comment

    edifir

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • hang on you are missing the point the contract they lost is for P.T.S patient transport service (non-emergency)

    Report this comment

    beanpole

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Privatising the NHS? What a load of absolute rubbish! Where does the NHS get its MRI scanners from? Where does the operating theatre kit – everything from the scalpel to the computer monitoring your vital signs - come from when you have surgery? Who researches, develops and manufactures the pills you need to keep you alive? Who made your father’s pacemaker or your grandmother’s wheelchair? Who employs your pharmacist? Answer: Not the NHS, but private business. £1 in every £4 is spent in the independent sector - and that doesn’t even include personal spending in dentistry, optometry and pharmacy settings. And has the sky fallen in? No, because for all of its life, the NHS has been a model of collaboration between the public and private sectors and of course, almost entirely free at the point of delivery. For well over a year now there has been a vigorous public debate taking place about the NHS, the Health and Social Care Bill and the need for savings. And shouting over the top of this debate have been those proclaiming that the NHS is being privatised! The NHS is owned by government and is controlled by the Department of Health (who own the NHS logo and letters as registered trademarks) under the Secretary of State for Health. It is essentially another government department, funded by income tax and national insurance. For the NHS to be privatised, control would have to be handed over to a private organisation. This is not happening, or going to! According to the OECD and the World Health Organisation, the term ‘privatisation’ can also include other policies such as ‘contracting out’ that is, the process by which activities, while publicly organised and financed, are carried out by private sector companies, e.g., street cleaning, rubbish collection, council housing. This already happens in the NHS. Thousands of contracts are held by independent providers for everything from cleaning to CT scans, patient transport to Macmillan nurses, day surgery to complex mental health treatment. These contractors are still accountable to the same standards and regulations as directly employed services, but do NOT have the benefits that come with NHS employment or ownership (e.g.an NHS pension). This broader definition is what opponents of the Health Bill in the NHS are objecting to, claiming it will lead to a ‘US style’ health system in England. Yet it isn’t privatisation because there is no cessation of control. Contractors have to fulfil the terms of their agreement with the NHS and the NHS Trusts or Commissioners that have awarded the contract remain ultimately accountable. The fundamental difference between the NHS and the U.S. healthcare system is how they are funded, and no one is suggesting that we move to a model of healthcare insurance to fund the NHS. Politicians and campaign groups owe it to the public who fund the NHS to focus on determining the best way to provide services. Continuing to demonise the private sector will just deter investors and damage the NHS – the debate needs to move on.

    Report this comment

    David Kennard

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • My first dealings with ERS who transported a 100 year old neughbour home were that they cared, they were caring. They mafde her a cup of tea! and wer overall fantastic

    Report this comment

    oldgrapper

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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