Health bosses probe Sussex hospital transport delays

Coperforma website Image copyright Coperforma
Image caption Coperforma said it had employed additional staff at its call centres following the problems

Health bosses are investigating the ongoing delays to hospital transport in Sussex after a private firm took over.

The GMB union warned that "someone could die" as kidney patients had missed dialysis appointments since Coperforma started running the service.

NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told Lewes MP Maria Caulfield a formal investigation had started, after she raised concerns.

Coperforma said it was using "all resources" to overcome "shortfalls".

Complaints of missed appointments emerged four days after it took over patient transport services in Sussex on 1 April.

'Unreliable and unacceptable'

In a letter to Ms Caulfield, NHS Coast West Sussex CCG apologised to patients and said it recognised the first few days of the service by Coperforma were "not acceptable".

"We are taking this situation very seriously and are working with Coperforma to find a solution as soon as possible, in order to provide the standard of service that Sussex patients expect and deserve.

"The CCG and Coperforma have already commenced a formal investigation."

The CCG also said Coperforma was "prioritising the transport of renal and oncology patients" and it hoped the measures being put in place would "get the service back to the standard which we and patients expect".

The Conservative MP, who described the current service as "unreliable and unacceptable", said if the new contractor's performance had not improved by Monday she would take the issue up with the relevant government minister.

Coperforma said there had been problems with data transfer and booking details, it was was "still not operating optimally" but pressure would ease as more staff were registered on its system.

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