MPs across East Sussex are welcoming the removal of Coperforma’s contract to provide non-urgent patient transport service.
It was confirmed today (1 November) that the company will step down from the position next April, with South Central Ambulance Service taking up the contract.
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said, “This is absolutely the right decision and I breathe a sigh of relief common sense has finally prevailed and others will now run this vitally important service from next year.
“To say the seven months since Coperforma took over this contract have been unsuccessful is undoubtedly an understatement, and probing questions must now be asked about the veracity of the due diligence completed prior to awarding the work to this company.
“From day one it was obvious there were serious problems and my office was inundated with letters and telephone calls from vulnerable and seriously ill people who had not made their hospital appointments.
“Only the wonderful professionalism of the drivers, many who were not paid for weeks, stopped this mess from becoming a tragedy and our thanks must go to them.
“South Central Ambulance Service will now take over and this is welcome news, although I am concerned Coperforma will still be primarily running the service until April next year while the transition to the new operator takes place.
“This period will need delicate management and I hope Coperforma will honour its commitments to the best of its ability during these next months.
“Despite this good news, lessons must be quickly learned from this difficult experience so that other areas of the country do not fall victim to similar problems when services change hands.”
Pevensey and Westham MP Huw Merriman said, “The arrangement with Coperforma has been bedevilled from the start. Service declined as the company tried to get to grips with its requirements. Many patients failed to get to their appointments at hospital and this caused distress to the vulnerable and difficulties for hospitals and their staff.
"Whilst Coperforma’s recent performance has improved, there have been difficulties with driver operators facing cash-flow shortages due to lack of prompt payment. The model, having the CCG, Coperforma, and separate driver operators, was not working and I am glad that the CCG and Coperforma have found a solution which will see the contract returned to a more traditional provider with the NHS. It is now essential that we support Coperforma, the CCG and the new Ambulance service provider so they can transition the new contract over for April 2017.”
Meanwhile, Polegate MP Maria Caulfield tweeted, “Very pleased progress has been made to end patient transport contract with Coperforma and NHS South Central Ambulance service will take over.”