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NHS ambulance trust loses non-emergency contract to private provider in Great Yarmouth and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:38 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:38 26 October 2017

NHS patients will use the transport service. Picture: Ian Burt

NHS patients will use the transport service. Picture: Ian Burt

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The region’s NHS ambulance service has lost the contracts for non-emergency patient transport services in Great Yarmouth and Suffolk to a private firm.

Robert Morton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), has labelled the move “extremely disappointing”.

E-zec Medical Transport Service, an independent and family-run ambulance company, will take over the contracts to transport unwell and immobile patients to healthcare appointments on April 1, 2018.

The firm will also provide a call handling service to check each patient’s eligibility and book the transport for them.

Mr Morton said: “I would like to thank all our staff, volunteers and managers who have helped deliver this service to patients.

“Our trust board wants to explore every opportunity to increase our involvement in non-emergency patient transport. Therefore, the announcement that we will not be delivering care to these patients in Suffolk and Great Yarmouth in the future is extremely disappointing.

“We strongly believe, as do all of our staff and volunteers, that we, as an NHS trust, are best placed to deliver patient transport services across the region.

“We will be working closely with our people and the new provider to minimise the impact on them and ensure we continue to deliver high quality services up until the changeover of provider.”

The contracts – one covering Great Yarmouth and Waveney and one covering Suffolk – were awarded following a tendering process carried out jointly by Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Ipswich and East Suffolk, and West Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Bids were evaluated against a variety of criteria, including quality of service and value for money, by a panel of CCG staff, as well as representatives from other healthcare organisations that will be using the service and a patient.

The contracts will run for five years.

Cath Byford, deputy chief officer and director of commissioning at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “The priority of all three CCGs is to secure the best possible service for our patients. E-zec has been appointed following a comprehensive procurement process, which saw each bid evaluated against a range of criteria which focused heavily on the quality of service which will be provided.

“All of the organisations involved will work closely with EEAST in the run up to 1 April to make sure that the service transfers smoothly without disruption for our patients.”

Jan Thomas, chief contracts officer, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: “We recognise the importance of the non-emergency patient transport service for those people who cannot use another form of transport without risking their health.

“In choosing a new provider we have worked closely with our three CCG and hospital partners to deliver a truly joined-up service that will deliver value for money and meet people’s needs.”

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