The controversial Private Ambulance Service Ltd, which provided ambulance services in Bedfordshire, has gone into administration.
The company had repeatedly come under fire from patients and a health watchdog for failing to get patients to hospital appointments on time.
A spokesperson from Bedfordshire, Luton and Hertfordshire CCGs said: “HMRC has issued a winding up order for Private Ambulance Service, the company that provides non-urgent patient transport in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton. The company will cease to trade on 9 October 2017.
“As commissioners of non-urgent transport, our patients’ welfare is our absolute priority and our teams are working hard to prioritise transport for those patients most at risk and ensure that eligible patients continue to receive a transport service.
“The next step is for NHS clinical commissioning groups in Bedfordshire, Luton and Hertfordshire to appoint an organisation that can provide transport for our patients. We are in discussions with a number of providers to understand what services can be provided quickly and safely.
“Any transport provider will be thoroughly assessed and will have to meet strict criteria.
“We are confident that patients who are scheduled to attend appointments this weekend will get the transport they need.
“Our focus is to ensure a smooth transition from the Private Ambulance Service to a new provider and to minimise any disruption for patients. We understand that patients and their families and carers may have concerns and we would like to reassure them that we are working very hard to resolve any problems.”
East of England Ambulance Service has been awarded a caretaker contract to provide non-emergency patient transport in Bedfordshire, Luton and Hertfordshire.
PAS, who were awarded the contract to run patient transport service in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire only 7 months ago, notified all staff by email on Friday that an insolvency practitioner Greenfield Recovery Ltd had been instructed to place the company into administration.
Tim Roberts Regional Manager for UNISON, the public service union, who represents workers in the failed company said: “We have been very concerned about this company for months. Both patients and staff have suffered. We know of numerous cases of vulnerable patients not being collected from hospital and ambulances that failed to meet even basic standards of road worthiness. Wages were not being paid, credit lines were closing down, and contributions to the pension schemes held back. It was obvious that the company was dying on its feet.
“This is the second time a private company has failed to deliver this contract in 2017. It is a clear example of why outsourcing patient transport services to the cheapest provider simply doesn’t work. Patients and our members deserve better.
“Our immediate concern is for the hard working staff who now have an anxious weekend ahead of them. We have already had urgent talks with the Clinical Commissioning Groups and the East of England Ambulance Trust to discuss how this vital service can be delivered in the future, and how both staff and patients can be protected”.