999 staff ‘in tears’ with 80 jobs ‘at risk’ as private firm wins contract – Birmingham Live
More than 80 ambulance service staff were left “in tears” and fearing for their jobs after a key patient transport contract was handed to a private firm.
West Midlands Ambulance Service was said to have held the deal – covering non-emergency transport in Worcestershire – for more 30 years.
But the Unison union, which represents workers, said it had been handed to E-zec Medical Transport – sparking fears for hubs at Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Wocester.
The union said: “This is a devastating decision for staff after health commissioners in Worcestershire awarded the service to private firm E-zec Medical Transport.”
Unite said E-zec had not confirmed if it will keep the patient transport service hubs after it took over next April.
And it said question marks hung over pensions and terms and conditions for workers.
Unision regional organiser Chanel Willis said: “Staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service have been doing a great job, which is reflected in the service’s ‘outstanding’ rating.
“We are all deeply shocked at the decision to award the contract to a private company.
“Many questions have yet to be answered – primarily where staff will be based.
“Staff have been in tears since the announcement and are devastated that the decision may affect patient care and their livelihoods.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it lost out because it “refused to compromise on patient safety”.
Non-emergency service operations delivery director Michelle Brotherton told the Kidderminster Shuttle : “Commissioners set out how much they felt the contract should be worth.
“However, given our extensive experience of running services like this we didn’t feel that it was possible to run the contract for that amount as it would have affected the quality of care for patients and ultimately their safety.
“We acknowledge that our bid fell outside the financial envelope set by the Commissioners, but we are simply not prepared to put patient care at risk.”
A spokesman for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCGs said: “The four CCCGs across Herefordshire and Worcestershire (NHS Herefordshire CCG, NHS Redditch and NHS Bromsgrove CCG, NHS South Worcestershire CCG and NHS Wyre Forest CCG) started a procurement process in October 2018 to identify a provider of Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS) from 1 April 2020 as the contract with the current provider was coming to an end.
“The procurement process was robust to ensure the new NEPTS provider is able to deliver against the contract’s quality and performance requirements. The process was weighted on patient quality and safety over financial considerations.
“The new provider has been operating safely and effectively in Herefordshire for the past four years and the CCGs are satisfied they meet all requirements for patient safety and will deliver a high standard of NEPTS for patients in Worcestershire.”