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West Suffolk Hospital board member Alex Baldwin hits out at E-zec Medical Transport's 'poor service'

West Suffolk Hospital chiefs are concerned about the ‘continued poor service’ provided by the company in-charge of its non-emergency transport.

E-zec Medical Transport, which works throughout Suffolk, had missed three of its four performance targets every month this year up to March - when most recent data was released.

In March, only 63 per cent of patients were delivered to the hospital between five and 60 minutes prior to their appointment - missing the target of 95 per cent.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. (13685059)
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. (13685059)

But the hospital’s management appears stuck with E-zec, which took the contract in April 2018, because ‘there is currently no viable alternative provider’.

Alex Baldwin, deputy chief operating officer, said in a recent board meeting that the trust had no ‘plan B’ regarding non-emergency patient transport.

His report stated: “Despite assurances, we are concerned E-zec does not have the capacity to deliver the contract to the required standard.

“We are also concerned it does not have the capability to deliver the contract to the required standard.

“In either case, it is felt that the degree of goodwill towards E-zec has eroded, such as there is little confidence they will deliver a service of acceptable quality to the trust and its patients.”

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E-zec, which currently holds 11 NHS contracts with various clinical commissioning groups and NHS Trusts across the UK, was awarded the Suffolk job in late 2017 - taking over from East of England Ambulance Service, which still provides emergency cover.

The non-emergency contract asks the provider to deliver all transport to and from the hospital for outpatients, inter-hospital transfers for inpatient and outpatient care and high dependency transfers for patients requiring lower intensity care at another location.

Mr Baldwin’s highly critical report said West Suffolk Hospital’s management had ‘initial concerns’ over E-zec. The company’s struggle to recruit staff, reliance on third party vehicles and ‘failure to use available resources’ stoked further doubt.

“In April and May 2018 the hospital trust and clinical commissioning group were receiving daily complaints from patients and staff about poor levels of service,” the report continued.

“Unfortunately we continue to get poor levels of patient experience.”

He added that ‘regular’ and ‘at times exceptionally robust challenges’ in meetings had ‘failed to have any significant impact on service provision’.

The trust is currently considering the performance with an update likely to be heard in July’s board meeting.

E-zec has been approached for a response, as has Matt Hancock, the health secretary and MP for West Suffolk.

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