The ‘seriously substandard’ patient transport service cost East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust £40,000 in April, it has been revealed.
Coperforma took over the contract to provide non-emergency patient transport on April 1.
But hundreds of patients were left waiting for hours after ambulances did not arrive to take them to hospital.
Those affected included patients with cancer and severe kidney failure, who missed important appointments for treatment.
Dr Adrian Bull, chief executive of the Trust which runs the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Eastbourne’s DGH, has revealed that some patients who had been discharged from hospital had been forced to stay another night after patient transport failed to materialise.
And in one case, an outpatient was forced to stay overnight.
The debacle has forced the cash-strapped Trust to make its own arrangements for patient transport, making a dent in its finances.
In his report to a meeting of the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust board, held at the DGH on Wednesday (June 8), Dr Bull said: “Patient transport issues remain a major concern.
“They are causing significant patient dissatisfaction and pose a safety risk to many patients.
“There is no evidence of improvement.
“Many patients are not attending appointments and there are significant delays in discharge.”
Dr Bull added that the problem ‘may be particularly acute in Eastbourne’.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Bull said that patients were being put at risk.
He said: “I believe MPs are raising it in the House (of Commons) today (Wednesday), so it is a matter of public concern, patient concern and across the organisation it is causing considerable inconvenience and putting people at risk.”
Dr Bull said the Trust had raised the issue ‘repeatedly’ with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which holds the contract and it had now formally raised the issue in a letter.
Dr Bull revealed that the Trust is now organising transport itself, rather than trying to organise it via Coperforma.
In April alone, the Trust was forced to fork out £40,000 on additional vehicles to get patients to and from hospital.
The Trust will be claiming the money back.
Dr Bull said: “We are providing alternative transport where we can and the CCG have agreed to cover the cost of that.
“We are moving to the point where we will put patients on alternative transport, rather then even trying to go through Coperforma.”
He added: “It is an important issue and we are doing everything we can to address it.”
Coperforma previously apologised ‘unreservedly’ to all patients and clinical staff who have been affected by transportation arriving late or not arriving at all.
An independent review into the transition and mobilisation of the patient transport service contract from South East Coast Ambulance Service to Coperforma is due to be published later this month.* Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
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