“Not acceptable” and a “total lack of confidence”, those were the phrases used to describe Thames Ambulance Service this week as pressure mounted on health bosses to act on the company’s patient transport contract.
Thames has had a tough time in Lincolnshire where it has been forced to apologise for its performance and faced the wrath of county councillors.
The Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire was the latest this week to slam its performance, but this time it was directed at Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group.
Back in July 2017, commissioners picked Thames to deliver the non-emergency patient transport service for the county.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.
But, latest performance figures show that the company has failed to reach 11 of its 12 key targets in December. It only managed to hit its call handling target.
As a result, councillors called on Tim Fowler, director of commissioning at the CCG, to terminate the contract for a second time.
Chair of the committee, Carl Macey, said there was a “total lack of confidence” in Thames to improve.
“It just seems like there is no level of improvement and we do not think that is satisfactory anymore and we have no confidence in Thames continuing,” he said.
Mr Fowler was made to sit and absorb all the criticism that came his way and made an effort to reassure councillors.
“We are still of the opinion where we do not want to give notice on this contract, particularly during the winter period,” he said
But Mr Fowler’s warnings of a risk in cutting ties with Thames as it would “put patients in a worse position” did not appear to wash.
For councillors, the message was clear – bite the bullet and find someone else.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from our coverage every week and insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.