Coperforma has been officially stripped of its contract this lunchtime (Tuesday).
In a long awaited statement from the GP-led clinical commissioning groups across Sussex, the patient transport service has been given notice and will cease to provide the service from next April.
Coperforma took over the contract in April this year but has been beset by problems including patients failing to get to hospital appointments on time.
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is to take over the contract.
It currently provides the PTS service across the whole of the South Central region, including Hampshire and the Thames Valley and was recently rated good and outstanding by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission.
A spokesperson at High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group, which manages the contract on behalf of the seven Sussex CCGs, said, “The start of the new contract in April 2016 with Coperforma saw unacceptable levels of performance, both in making bookings and with the transport itself. Patients and health professionals had difficulty getting through on the phone lines and many patients were collected late or not at all.
“Performance has improved, although the improvements are not consistent across the whole of Sussex and some patients continue to experience problems. Recently, there have been a number of issues between Coperforma and some of its subcontractors, which have raised concerns about the sustainability of the service.
“Now Coperforma has agreed to step down from the contract. In order to minimise disruption to patients, the transfer will be phased over the next few months, with SCAS taking complete responsibility from April 2017.
“Patients do not have to do anything. They should continue to book their transport as they normally do. Gradually, more and more of the service will be taken over by SCAS.”
Wendy Carberry, chief executive of High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, said, “We are delighted SCAS has agreed to take over the patient transport service. The managed transfer will minimise disruption for patients. And we can start to resolve the situation for staff who have been through a period of uncertainty.”
James Underhay, the deputy chief executive of SCAS, said, “SCAS is under no illusion that taking on delivery of this service will be challenging and that we need to stabilise the service before we can begin to make significant improvements to it.
“We fully recognise this is a difficult period for the patients who rely on the service and the staff who provide it. I want to reassure Sussex patients we at SCAS are fully committed to providing the service they expect and deserve from the NHS, and to reassure the staff who will be joining us that we will provide them with the support and tools that they need to deliver a great service.”