NHS non-emergency patient transport service in Norfolk set for new era with transfer to private firm

ERS Medical will take over the Norfolk PTS contract on October 1.

ERS Medical will take over the Norfolk PTS contract on October 1. - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs pledged to improve a non-emergency transport service in Norfolk ahead of an NHS service being transferred to a private company.

A new era for the county's patient transport service (PTS) will begin next week when the contract officially transfers from the region's ambulance service to ERS Medical.

The service, which takes patients to and from hospital, GP and other health appointments, has been run by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) for the last eight years.

However, from next Wednesday, patients who qualify for the service in Norwich, South Norfolk, West Norfolk and North Norfolk areas will need to phone a different number when a new five year contract begins with ERS Medical.

Union representatives have raised concerns about the transfer of the Norfolk PTS after a new Essex service, run by the private company, resulted in some patients missing appointments because of transport delays earlier this year.

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Officials said many of the ambulance staff that ran Norfolk PTS would continue under ERS Medical as part of a staff transfer.

Nikki Cocks, director of operations and delivery for Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: 'We re-procured the contract to run this service in compliance with public sector legislation. ERS Medical was chosen from a number of bidders, based on the quality of the service offered and also value for taxpayers' money. We look forward to working with ERS Medical to continue an excellent and valued NHS service to our patients.'

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Brendan Fatchett, managing director for ERS Medical, added that the company aimed to improve communication with users of the service and was working with Voluntary Norfolk to bring back the Car Link volunteer drivers' scheme.

'We are delighted to expand our offering in Norfolk and build on the existing services we've been delivering to the area for a number of years. We look forward to continuing to work with the Norfolk community and delivering a service which is focused on patient care,' he said.

EEAST will continue to provide the non-emergency transport services for patients living in Great Yarmouth and Waveney and the rest of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Norfolk PTS oversaw 115,000 patient journeys last year.

The patient transport access booking number has changed to 0333 240 4100. Visit www.ersmedical.co.uk

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

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