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Boss of private firm pledges to improve patient transport service in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 June 2014

The boss of a private health company has insisted that Norfolk patients will experience a better service when a non-emergency transport service is transferred later this year.

Unions raised their concerns after commissioners decided to award an NHS patient transport service (PTS) contract to ERS Medical after being run by the East of England Ambulance Service for the last eight years.

The private company will be taking over the service, which employs 120 people, from October 1, after offering a cheaper bid for the contract.

Brendan Fatchett, managing director of ERS Medical, said any nervousness about the company taking on PTS in Norfolk was “unfounded”.

“We are an experienced business and we are doing over a million movements of patients a year. We will keep the staff that people have come to know and we will actively engage with the volunteer community,” he said.

Concerns were raised by Unison after some patients were left waiting hours for transport, with some missing appointments for cancer treatment and dialysis, after ERS took over the PTS contract in Essex on May 1.

Mr Fatchett added that he hoped to avoid a repeat of the problems experienced with the PTS transfer in Mid Essex after he claimed that 13 members of staff were withdrawn by the ambulance service at short notice.

He added that he aimed to improve communications and dispatch procedures in Norfolk to reduce waiting times and avoid unnecessary journeys.

“We will call them 24 hours before and ring them when we are on our way. There is a lot of waste when the provider goes to pick up people who are not there because their appointment has been cancelled or they have made alternative arrangements.”

“Non-emergency PTS is a Cinderella service that gets the least investment and management because they [the ambulance service] have to focus on the 999 service and life-threatening incidents .We would not have signed up if we could not add extra value to the service,” he said.

About 115,000 PTS journeys were undertaken in 2013/14 across Norfolk.

ERS Medical, which has its headquarters in Leeds, already provides PTS contracts for the NHS in London, Devon, Yorkshire, the North West, and Essex.

Mr Fatchett added that the company was registered with the Care Quality Commission and had been set stringent performance targets by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Have you got a health story? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

2 comments

  • Sugarbeet. ERS are not allowed to contact anyone under contract, be it paid or volunteer positions until given permission by EEAST. Please be patient and don't think you are being ignored, I know trusts elsewhere in country have left till just days before to give over details while others have hidden the fact they rely on volunteers and failed to disclose volunteers details to an incoming provider. ERS will be aware of this and will be ready to accommodate the hard work of all volunteer drivers.

    Report this comment

    Panda

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • Brendan Fatchettt said "...we will actively engage with the volunteer community,” . There's no evidence of that yet. ERS won't reply to emails sent by the volunteer drivers' rep. Mind you the EEAS management aren't any better. The drivers' manager at the N&N is leaving along with 5 staff who are vital to the day to day running of the operation (including experienced journey planners), but have the drivers been informed? The management treat the volunteers with utter contempt and disrespect, despite them carrying out about 50% (so I believe) non urgent patient transport journeys. Despite this the drivers continue to provide an efficient, caring and friendly service to vulnerable patients.

    Report this comment

    Sugarbeet

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

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