February 19, 2020 3.45 pm This story is over 19 months old

Terminating Thames Ambulance Service would ‘leave patients in worse position’

It would be a risk, say health bosses

Terminating the contract of an underperforming Lincolnshire patient transport service would leave patients in a worse position, health bosses say.

Thames Ambulance Service has provided non-emergency transport in the county since 2017, but councillors said they have a “total lack of confidence” in the firm.

Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions the service, said it would not give notice on the contract “at this moment in time”.

In a report before the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire, figures showed Thames achieved one out of 12 of its key performance indicators for December.

Tim Fowler, director of commissioning and contracting at the CCG, said the performance of the service was “unfortunate” and not something commissioners were proud of.

Councillor Carl Macey, chair of the health scrutiny panel for Lincolnshire.

However, he said it would be a risk to terminate the service at this time.

“We are still of the opinion where we do not want to give notice on this contract, particularly during the winter period,” he said

“It still needs to improve more, however giving notice is going to be a worse position for patients.”

He added that health bosses would continue to work with Thames to improve its performance.

Councillors called for an end to the service last June and said residents have “had enough” with Thames.

Councillor Carl Macey, chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire, said the service was “not acceptable” and he had no confidence that it would improve.

“The service does not in any way shape or form seem to be performing for our residents,” he said.

“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.”

Councillors voted today (February 19) for a second time to call for commissioners to exit the contract with Thames.

Lincolnshire West CCG, which is the lead commissioner for non-emergency patient transport services in the county, contracted the company in July 2017.

The service came under criticism from patients and forced Thames to apologise in February 2018 for poor performance in the county.

Since then, the firm has undergone a management restructure which includes Derek Laird, former commercial director of West Midlands Ambulance Service, taking over as chief executive.

In November, NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group stripped the firm of its contract in the region.

Thames also lost the non-emergency transport service in North Lincolnshire in 2018 after patients were “still experiencing difficulty” with the service.

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