NWAS have been awarded five-year contracts to run the Patient Transport Service in each of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria.
Responding to the news that commissioners have awarded four out of five contracts in the North West for Patient Transport Services to the NWAS (North West Ambulance Service) NHS Trust, Kevin Lucas, UNISON North West Regional Organiser said:
“It’s great news that after three years in the hands of a private company, the Greater Manchester Patient Transport Service (PTS) will be returned to the public sector.
“Three years ago Arriva promised that they could take a profit from the NHS whilst delivering a higher standard of service at a lower cost. UNISON warned commissioners and politicians at the time that the service should be kept in the NHS, and Arriva’s promises have proved to be false.
“Patients who have used the PTS over the last three years will tell you that the staff are great, but that under Arriva there are not enough staff, and there are not enough vehicles. The result is often delays of up to four or five hours for elderly and vulnerable patients who rely on the PTS to get to and from their vital medical appointments.
“It is not acceptable. And the real scandal is that having run down the service in an effort to cut costs and increase profits, Arriva had to admit to submitting false performance indicators to the NHS commissioners. These indicators did not just conceal the dreadful service being delivered to NHS patients by Arriva, they enabled Arriva to falsely claim an extra performance bonus of around £1.5m from NHS funding.
“It is outrageous and this government has to learn the lessons. We have to stop outsourcing vital NHS services to private companies who can only profit by driving down the standard of care offered to NHS patients. The NHS must be publicly funded, publicly owned and publicly delivered. There can be no place for profit in our NHS.
“We are though very disappointed that the contract for Cheshire, Wirral and Warrington has not been awarded to NWAS. We believe that the service is best run within the NHS and within the North West and that this change causes unnecessary upheaval and uncertainty. It appears that the lessons from Greater Manchester’s experience may not have been learned. We will be supporting our members in Cheshire through this difficult time.”