The boss of Coperforma, the company that provides non-urgent patient transport services to Eastbourne and Sussex, has today (7 November) hit out at claims the company has been ‘stripped’ of its contract.
Last week, it was revealed that the firm will be released from the deal in April next year, when South Coast Ambulance Service will take it over.
In a statement, Michael Clayton, Chief Executive of Coperforma said, “Criticism started on the day in January this year when the commissioners announced the award of the contract to Coperforma; inevitably and correctly, it increased when the launch of the service ran into trouble. Wrong decisions were made for which I take responsibility and we badly let down many patients.
“However, even when the problems were quickly identified and rectified and the service began performing better than it had ever done under the previous provider, the negative and malicious, largely politically inspired publicity continued relentlessly, against the company, our staff and contractors and the commissioners in the print, on radio and television and social media. Politicians joined and the situation was raised in Parliament.
“It became clear that we were facing an unwinnable battle and there came a point during October when the Board feared the service would break down completely threatening the safety and well-being of patients and we concluded that the right and only course of action was to raise with the commissioners the notion of stepping back from the contract.
“The commissioners had come to a similar conclusion and contrary to media reports, we have not been ‘stripped’ of the contract but what is best described as a ‘friendly divorce’ was agreed, importantly with ‘no fault’ attached to either Coperforma or the commissioners.”
Mr. Clayton said that the detailed terms of the contract transition to South Coast Ambulance Service, including the timing, are still to be finalised and a Coperforma team will be meeting with the commissioners and SCAS representatives shortly. The company will also be seeking to arrange a meeting involving the contractors, commissioners and SCAS to discuss resourcing requirements going forward.
Mr Clayton continued, “Our immediate priority is to collaborate with the commissioners and SCAS to ensure a smooth transition of the service in the very best interests of patients.
“Finally I want to publicly thank our employees and contractors who have worked tirelessly, often under the most pressing circumstances, to maintain and continually improve the performance of the service; equally I want to acknowledge the support and encouragement of the commissioners who gave us the opportunity in the first instance to deliver an improved patient transport service in Sussex.
“The service has delivered a much better experience for many patients across Sussex and I would like to thank also the Hospital staff and our Transport Partners who have worked tirelessly to make that a possibility.”