Patient transport service should be given back to NHS says MP

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman pictured last year
Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman pictured last year

Patient transport services in Sussex should be given back to the NHS, according to Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman.

Coperforma took over the contract from South East Coast Ambulance Service back in April and according to the company itself endured a ‘disastrous start’, with patients complaining of crews turning up late or not showing up at all.

Two sub-contractors VM Langfords and Docklands Medical Services (DMS) have gone bust, and the GMB union was forced to hold a number of protests before Coperforma and the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) committed to guarantee wages owned to former DMS staff.

Last week a spokesman for Coperforma said: “Patients across Sussex are receiving after a long time a safe, reliable and caring transport service and we find it inconceivable that there are those organisations and individuals who are demanding it is arbitrarily taken away from them.

“No justifiable reasons exist or have been put forward for such an objectionable action, so it can only be assumed it is being dictated by political influences or personal interests or a combination of both.”

He added: “Coperforma remains committed to continue to provide all patients and hospitals in Sussex with an unrivalled ambulance service and will firmly resist any attempt to prevent them receiving what they deserve.”

But speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Mr Merriman said: “I do not believe that contract works, and I think hindsight should have told everybody that.

“I would like to see that contract brought back in-house so that ambulance services in the NHS are operating it and I think that those measures look like they could be in train.”

Coperforma was the only organisation to bid for the contract as the specification precluded SECAmb from continuing the service.

Previously the booking for the PTS was done through a bureau run by the old Primary Care Trust, which was then taken over by the CCGs when these were abolished.

Both the booking and the transport itself are now managed under one contract provided by Coperforma.

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