The Argus newspaper recently revealed that the private ambulance firm which provided such abysmal service that it was stripped of its four-year contract after seven months was paid more than it should have. I've been helping the drivers, their union the GMB and service users since the start of this debacle and now I'm more angry than ever.
During the tenure of the service ran by Coperforma tens of thousands of patient journeys were missed, patients were left waiting for hours, patients missed appointments, ambulances were sent to the homes of patients who had died, ambulances operated without a licence and drivers went for months without pay.
In fact, Coperforma performed so poorly that after seven months the NHS pulled the plug. For this 'service' Coperforma were paid £16.2 million and the NHS paid close to £1 million in extra payments.
At a time of crisis in the NHS, we now know that NHS managers have been pouring taxpayers’ money straight down the drain. This is enormous investment for no return whatsoever. In fact, all most patients got for these millions was misery, uncertainty and the indignity of waiting countless hours for a terrible service. Taxpayers and patients alike need answers. And they need to know that there are consequences for this gross malpractice. The people who wasted these millions must pay a price.
As part of my efforts for fairness I am working with Age UK on this because our system for getting older people to hospital isn't fit-for-purpose. Our key concerns are:
*who gets help and how good that help is seems to be a postcode lottery.
*currently many older people are experiencing anxiety, exhaustion and distress getting to their hospital appointments.
*we want every older person to get to their hospital appointments safely without it being a struggle.
In Brighton and Hove my concerns are:
*Patients not being permitted to have a companion when needed, for example one individual got in touch to tell us that despite her mother being partially sighted she was not allowed to travel with her.
*Patients being referred to hospitals which are too far to travel to on public transport.
*Unreliability of public transport to get patients to hospital, and the eligibility for PTS being set too high.
You can read a campaign report here: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN HERE: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/