Patients demand improved service from private ambulance provider

ERS Medical took over the patient transport contract in October.

ERS Medical took over the patient transport contract in October. - Credit: Archant

Patients have waited for more than four hours for hospital transport following the awarding of a health contract to a private provider.

ERS Medical was awarded the five-year contract to transport non-emergency patients from October 1 everywhere in Norfolk apart from the Great Yarmouth area.

Norfolk's NHS commissioners gave the Leeds firm the contract over the more expensive East of England Ambulance Trust bid, despite complaints about the service from day one in Essex where it began providing NHS transport services in May last year. A series of complaints was also made about the firm after it won the contract for the Barts Hospital in London.

The first month ERS began operating the transport contract in Norfolk, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) reported a spike in transport queries from patients.

Patient dissatisfaction has prompted one man, Roy Padbrook from Diss, to start a patient-led commission to call for improvements in the service. 'Since ERS has taken over from the ambulance service it has been a mess,' he said.

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Mr Padbrook, who regularly attends the N&N for kidney dialysis, said he came across one patient at Christmas who was still waiting to be picked up from the hospital at 1pm following cancer treatment.

His ERS Medical transport was supposed to arrive at 9am. 'The receptionist was calling ERS to find our where the ambulance was. In the end the man took a private taxi home,' Mr Padbrooke said.

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A spokesman for Norfolk's CCGs said: 'ERS Medical demonstrated it is able to provide patients in Norfolk, with a high quality service overall, which is why it won the Norfolk contract.

'ERS Medical was chosen from a number of bidders, based on the quality of the service offered and also value for taxpayers' money.'

The company failed to answer requests for comment.

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