HEALTH bosses say alleged missed targets and long waiting times are not to blame for a non-emergency ambulance contract changing hands.
ERS Medical will no longer provide non-emergency transport for the Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group from next Wednesday with Thames Ambulance Service taking over.
But in a joint statement the CCG and ERS have denied their partnership is ending as a result of “issues around quality, activity or performance.”
It comes after a source told the Times ERS had “constantly failed to meet their contract targets” and claimed that “some patients are left waiting for more than four hours for their transport home from hospital.”
In the statement the CCG and ERS said: “Our contract reached its agreed end date and did not cease as a result of issues around quality, activity or performance, which is monitored by Mid Essex CCG as a matter of routine across all its NHS service providers.
“Patient transport across mid and south Essex has seen a rising demand in recent times and, coupled with the way hospital discharges work, patients can regrettably experience delays in their journeys.
“Securing our patients’ safety and comfort has been and remains our top priority.”
The CCG buys non-emergency transport to help patients living in the Braintree and Maldon districts get to hospitals for appointments, clinics or home after a stay on a ward.
ERS has been providing that transport since April 2014 but Thames – which offers the service in areas such as Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire – will take over on Wednesday.
Its contract runs until the end of March 2020 with bosses saying the year will allow “for the future service to go through a full procurement.”
Rachel Hearn, from the CCG, said: “We are working with ERS Medical and TASL (Thames) to ensure a seamless transfer of services.
“Patients will still receive the same quality of service and the change in provider should have a minimal impact on users apart from a change in telephone number to book the service.”
Thames project director Graham Briggs said: “We have built a strong relationship with Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and look forward to supporting mid Essex patients as we deliver this vital service.”
For more information on the change visit midessexccg.nhs.uk.
From 13 March, patients can book using the Thames booking line: 0808 169 9614.
For any journey before the 13 March, patients should continue to contact the current provider, ERS Medical, on its bookings number: 0333 240 4999.