LETTER: Transport system needs to change

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I feel compelled to express my profound concerns on behalf of patients regarding serious issues with Patient Transport Service (PTS) which has attracted strong coverage in the media over the last few weeks.

Since April 1 the PTS across East Sussex has been provided by Coperforma. The contract procurement process was led by High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on behalf of the seven CCGs across Sussex.

The fact is that alarm bells should have sounded within the CCGs as to why Coperforma was the only organisation that tendered for the PTS contract and why no other organisation including the previous provider SECAmb felt that they could not provide a substantive bid within the financial package that was being offered in the contract.

SECAmb expressed concerns regarding the standards and associated costs of the service being requested by the CCGs.

Having secured the contract Coperforma proceeded to subcontract the PTS service to 18 other organisations. One of those subcontractors VM Langford went into receivership within 10 weeks leaving patients without transport.

Another subcontractor Docklands Medical Services went to the wall a few weeks ago. Drivers turned up for work to find the offices had been emptied with a closure notice displayed on the window.

The CCGs are ultimately responsible for this debacle. It suits the latter for Coperforma to take the rap in order to distract criticism of the CCGs which awarded Coperforma the contract and thereafter negligently failed to scrutinise the service that they had commissioned.

I’m sure that many of your readers like myself would like to know if anyone in the CCG has been reprimanded for this appalling incompetence.

For me the buck doesn’t stop here. What about the Surrey and Sussex division of NHS England that are responsible for scrutinising the competence of CCGs across Sussex? What action if any have they taken in this matter? I believe that this matter should be referred to the Secretary of State For Health. It demonstrates a profound lack of governance and raises serious questions about the role of CCGs in commissioning primary care services.

I would strongly urge anyone who has missed their hospital appointment or suffered in anyway because of the PTS issue to contact their CCG to pay for a private consultation. The CCG is ultimately responsible not the contractor. If the CCG refuses, I would suggest that patients consult a solicitor to pursue litigation.

I’m calling for the present system to be scrapped, leaving doctors to concentrate on their work and to reinstate the Primary Care Trusts.

Cllr Mike Turner

Scutes Close

Hastings

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