North Lincolnshire

North Lincolnshire CCG will cancel Thames Ambulance Service contract

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North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group will cancel Thames Ambulance Service’s patient transport contract.

The CCG decided to commission a new provider after the Care Quality Commission found failings at the service in Scunthorpe.

Thames have now been served with a notice informing them of the commissioning of a new provider within 12 months.

In a statement, the CCG said that while improvements were seen with the service, patients were still “experiencing difficulty”.

“PTS exists to support people to get to and from hospital when they are too poorly or are otherwise physically unable to manage the journey themselves,” the statement said.

“We are disappointed to have reached this position, however it is extremely important to us that our local population receive good care.

“We will continue to work closely with TASL to ensure the service to patients is not affected and that people working for the organisation in North Lincolnshire are kept informed and fully supported to ensure a smooth transition to a new service.”

Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel for North Lincolnshire, Holly Mumby-Croft, said: “The CCG has made the right decision. I have been calling for action since I first highlighted the issue at Health Scrutiny many months’ ago. This is an appropriate and bold move on the part of the CCG and I welcome the action.

“I have spoken to drivers at TASL and they have not been adequately engaged with, it is totally unacceptable that drivers have learned of this situation at my scrutiny meeting, rather than through their employer. I really feel for the hard working staff, doing their best for patients.

“I am pleased that the NLCCG has served notice on Thames. It is not acceptable – they were failing our residents by providing a shoddy service, despite being given every opportunity to improve.

“These are vulnerable people who need to get to and from hospital for their appointments. Our residents deserve much better.”

It comes after Thames staff in both Scunthorpe and Grimsby told CQC inspectors the company was “inept and disorganised”.

An inspection found that staff in Scunthorpe and Grimsby felt unsupported and that morale among them was low.

One staff member told inspectors that Thames was “reactive rather than proactive to concern”.

Thames Ambulance Service took over contracts for non-emergency patient transport in northern Lincolnshire 18 months ago.

Since then MPs and councillors in the region have called on health bosses to terminate the contract.

Thames Ambulance Service also previosuly apologised to patients and staff in Lincolnshire for its poor performance.

The performance of the service in Lincolnshire has improved but the contract remains under threat.