Private Ambulance Service: Trade union appeals to St Albans and Harpenden MPs for enquiry

Unison have asked the NHS to stop handing out patient transportation contracts.

Unison have asked the NHS to stop handing out patient transportation contracts. - Credit: Archant

The trade union UNISON has urged Beds and Herts MPs to call for an enquiry into Private Ambulance Service.

Ambulance crews and staff were left jobless after Private Ambulance service, which ran patient transportation for the two counties, closed this month.

UNISON eastern regional secretary, Chris Jenkinson, said: “UNISON has been aware of growing issues in the performance and reliability of the Private Ambulance Service.

“Our members have raised concerns about patient safety and ambulances that don’t meet basic standards of road worthiness. Many of our members are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid wages and missing pension contributions.”

Multiple cases of St Albans patients waiting up to 24 hours for transport have come to light over the past few months.

There have also been rumours Private Ambulance Service had been reported to the Pensions Regulator for not paying in contributions.

Mr Jenkinson continued: “We have taken every opportunity express these concerns and ask action be taken to resolve the issues quickly.

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“Despite this, UNISON has found the silence on the part of some of the local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to be deafening.

“This incident demonstrates NHS services in Beds and Herts have reached a crunch point – CCGs should not be relying on low cost, low quality providers.

“A full enquiry is needed to find out how this happened and to ensure it never happens again.

“We want the NHS to stop handing out patient transport service contracts to the private sector until all the lessons have been learnt from this debacle.”

St Albans MP Anne Main, and Harpenden’s Bim Afolami were also sent Mr Jenkinson’s letter.

Mrs Main said: “I’m very aware of the ongoing difficulties that patents have had with PAS, and have helped local residents with the complaints process.

“Whilst the news is disappointing, I was pleased the CCG are making new arrangements with the ambulance service as a caretaker provider. This, however, is clearly not a long-term solution.

“I’ve now requested a meeting with the minister to discuss this matter further, and hope to raise with him some of the difficulties that constituents have faced.”