University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
The private contract, awarded to QE Facilities, now means that volunteer blood bikers covering the same geographical area as will be covered under the new multi-million-pound private
A statement on the QE Facilities website said:
‘After a long tender
‘This new contract will create new opportunities for upwards of forty new positions which include drivers, administration and management. QE Transport will ensure that all specimens are safely transported within strict time constraints, by delivering a caring, efficient and flexible service with patient care in mind at all times.
‘The contract operational delivery is based on a hub and spoke method, resulting in the creation of a new QE Facilities Hub within the Coventry area.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for QE Facilities to work with a large organisation and to expand on its own specialist transport services. Our dedicated service also provided to the pathology courier services cross the
However, the decision has left Coventry and Warwickshire Blood Bikes volunteers bemused as their free transport service is now, in effect, redundant.
A spokesperson for Warwickshire Blood Bikes said:
‘In 2011 Coventry and Warwickshire Blood Bikes Charity was set up to provide an urgent out of hours transport service for the delivery of blood, spinal fluid, surgical instruments and patient notes amongst other things.
‘More recently we now provide a daily service to the air ambulance of fresh blood for use in some of the most critical emergencies faced by the NHS, and we now collect donated mothers breast milk to give premature babies the best possible chance at life.
‘Warwickshire and Solihull Blood bikes were not consulted on the plans and this move has devastated the charity and its 200 volunteers who give up their time and money to help save lives in the local community.
‘This will affect Rugby St Cross, George Eliot and Warwick Hospital.
‘UHCW allowed the charity to continue fundraising after singing a new service level agreement (SLA) just 10 days after placing this to tender.
‘They allowed us to continue accepting the goodwill donations of the communities of Warwickshire and Solihull trying to future proof the organisation by investing in a new response bike and a 4×4 vehicle to allow us to ensure we could respond in all weathers.
‘The charity has resolved to continue in it’s now limited capacity to serve the air ambulance and the milk runs, but how long we can continue to do that is severe doubt.’
Many people in the NHS have been left dumbfounded as to why a service that had been provided to the Trust in question for free, has now been contracted out to a private company at considerable cost to the taxpayer.
A University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust spokesman said:
“The Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service (CWPS) serves 1.6 million patients, four acute hospitals, nine Clinical Commissioning Groups and more than 250 GP practices.
“It runs a transport and logistics service to safely transfer blood samples and other medical items between hospitals and other sites. Demand has grown massively and approximately 10 million samples were handled in 2018/19.
“The transport service was previously delivered by a wide range of suppliers, with some contracted through CWPS and others through third party organisations.
“With complexities increasing and the service potentially expanding to cover areas such as Hereford and Worcester, a decision was made to standardise delivery to ensure current and future needs, as well as stringent UK accreditation requirements, are met and exceeded.
“In line with public sector procurement regulations, we went out to open tender and supplier days were held to inform organisations of our requirements.
“This process has now concluded and the contract awarded to QE Facilities, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust. Any profit generated is reinvested in health care, not transferred to independent shareholders.
“Our aim now is to ensure the service continues to go from strength to strength and helps to further enhance the patient experience.”
The spokesman added:
“All previous suppliers – including volunteers from the Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes – have been informed of the changes and thanked for their invaluable contribution.
“We offered to continue utilising Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes until at least June 2019 while we supported them in exploring new opportunities. Since then, representatives have informed us by email of their decision to withdraw the service from 1 April 2019.
“It should be noted that Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes transported approximately 1,000 samples a year – 0.01% of the total received by CWPS. We are immensely grateful to the group for its hard work and support.”
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