Eastbourne People’s Assembly is calling for an immediate end fo Coperforma’s contract to provide non-emergency patient transport services in the town.
Since its introduction, there has been a number of complaints against the service and East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust has say the deterioration is putting patients’ lives at risk. The Trust has so far had to pay out of £40,000 in providing alternative patient transport to date, to get people to appointments.
Spokesperson for the EPA, Andrew Durling, said, "Eastbourne People's Assembly calls for an immediate termination of Coperforma's contract, and all services provided by the company should be placed in the hands of the South East Coast Ambulance Service. Furthermore, the EPA calls for such a vital service to never again be privatised. The failings of Coperforma illustrate vividly how privatisation of NHS services is a high risk strategy which can, and often does, go horribly wrong. Taking such risks with patients' lives is unacceptable and is the reason why the EPA will always oppose privatisation of any NHS service. The NHS should remain a publicly owned, publicly run organisation that serves people, not profits."
Myra Kelly, who lives in Eastbourne says of Coperforma, "I have lung cancer and have relied on Passenger Transport for some months now to take me to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey. When the service was provided by SECAMB there were absolutely no problems, they were excellent. Every day they were booked to take me for radiotherapy they turned up on time, however early the pick up.
Since this disgraceful firm were granted their £65 million contract by the Clinical Care Commission I have been let down by them 3 times - once they were over two hours late to take me for a scan, and twice they just did not turn up at all. I suppose I could say I was reasonably lucky that I was not going for live saving treatment as my appointments were for consultations with my oncologist! But that is about to change as I will probably have to have chemotherapy in the not too distant future.
But that is not the point. They are totally and completely useless!! If you are lucky your phone call to them gets answered in 15 minutes, but usually it takes anything up to 45 minutes to get through. The stress it causes every time they do not turn up is horrendous and the telephone calls you have to make to see what they are playing at just adds to the stress! I do know that with SECAMB the transport companies were given their patients details the previous day, but with Coperforma the jobs are sent to the transport companies in the morning the passenger is due to be picked up.
In my opinion this firm is playing with the lives of people who desperately need help, and basically: what gives them the right to decide who lives or die? I am firmly convinced that if they remain in charge of patient transport somebody's death will be traced back to their inefficiency."