NHS investigation to be launched into £63.5m contract as union representing crews attacks situation that has left patients waiting for hours. Hundreds of patients including people with cancer and kidney failure have missed important appointments for treatment because ambulances did not arrive to take them to hospital, after privatisation of NHS non-urgent transport services in Sussex this month.
Some elderly patients have had to wait more than five hours for ambulances and been stuck at hospital for long periods after their appointments because the transport service, now run by the private firm Coperforma, has proved so unreliable.
Patients, relatives, NHS bodies and local MPs have severely criticised the service’s performance, and a trade union representing ambulance crews said it was an “absolute shambles”. The NHS organisations that awarded the four-year, £63.5m contract have now launched an investigation. A host of problems have arisen since Coperforma replaced the NHS’s South East Coast ambulance service (Secamb) as the provider of non-emergency patient transport services on 1 April.