Union calls for enquiry into failure of patient transport services in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

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A trades union has called on MPs across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire to call for an enquiry into the failures of patient transport services in the two counties.

The call has been made following the recent collapse of Private Ambulance Service Ltd which itself came after another private sector company failed to deliver services they were contracted by the NHS to provide.

In the previous instance, a company walked away claiming the contract was not affordable, which is when Private Ambulance Service stepped in.

UNISON has written to MPs including Bedford’s Mohammad Yasin, Kelvin Hopkins in Luton North and Gavin Shuker in Luton South,

Also on the list is Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire), Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire) and Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire).

The Hertfordshire list of MPs includes Hemel Hempstead’s Mike Penning and David Gauke, who represents South West Hertfordhire, including Tring and Berkhamsted.

Chris Jenkinson, UNISON’s Eastern regional secretary said: “UNISON has been aware of growing issues in the performance and reliability of the Private Ambulance Service, with patients waiting hours, sometimes days to be taken to appointments.

“Our members have raised concerns about patient safety and ambulances that don’t meet basic standards of roadworthiness. Many of our members are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid wages and missing pension contributions.

“We have taken every opportunity express these concerns and ask that action be taken to resolve the issues quickly. Despite this open and honest approach, UNISON has found the silence on the part of some of the local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to be deafening.

“This incident demonstrates that NHS services in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have reached a crunch point – CCGs should not be relying on low cost, low quality providers. It is demonstrable that repeated privatisation of services within our NHS has failed, not only on the test of cost effectiveness but most importantly on patient care.

“A full enquiry is needed to find out how this happened and to ensure it never happens again. We want the NHS to stop handing out patient transport service contracts to the private sector until all the lessons have been learnt from this debacle.”