A new company will take over the contract for non-emergency patient transport in Lincolnshire from Saturday (July 1).
Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group has awarded the five-year contract on behalf of all the CCGs in the county to Thames Ambulance Service Ltd (TASL), which will take over from NSL for patients who are eligible for transport and are registered with a Lincolnshire GP.
The five-year contract was awarded in December 2016 and TASL will operate from the Pelham Centre in Lincoln, transporting around 700 patients per day in Lincolnshire.
In July 2012, private company NSL took over a multi-million-pound contract from East Midlands Ambulance Service to provide this transport for patients in Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.
Most staff are expected to transfer under TUPE agreements to the new contractor, making use of their local expertise and experience.
NSL currently serves the Sleaford area from an ambulance base on Heckington Business Park, which will remain and all staff have had the option of staying on.
All patients will now be re-assessed for eligibility to use the service, although the criteria remains the same under the new provider as before.
Craig Esberger, contract liaison manager at Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased to have awarded the non-emergency patient transport contract to Thames and look forward to working with them.
“Although the eligibility criteria for the new provider remains the same, all patients will be assessed before being able to book non-emergency patient transport.
“Some patients may have experienced a change in circumstances which would mean they are no longer eligible for transport, while others may now be able to use the service which is why TASL will undertake eligibility assessments for all patients.
“Patient transport services are for those who have a medical condition that prevents them from getting to their appointment, so it is essential those who really need the service get access to it.”
The new service will determine eligibility for access to transport following a short, confidential telephone assessment which all patients will need to complete even if they were eligible under the previous providers.
Any patient with transport already booked for on or after July 1 via the NSL booking centre will automatically have their booking transferred to TASL.
Patients will also need to provide their personal details including information about their GP as well as the time and location of the appointment on each occasion when booking.
Lee Barham, chief operating officer for TASL, said: “Colleagues at all levels have been working hard to establish the service in the area, backed by decades of experience.
“The co-operation from the Clinical Commissioning Groups and the previous service provider, NSL, has been tremendous in its assistance in the preparation for this new contract.
“Staff transitioning from the previous provider have been very patient and co-operative with us as we help them on board to utilise critically valuable expertise, skills and knowledge gained to execute our strategy of providing exemplary care.
“We are excited and proud to serve Lincolnshire’s community and we look forward to working closely with community partners and patients.
“This will forge a strong professional relationship and enable the service to introduce its culture of continual improvement underpinned via the importance of patient experience and feedback.”
The service will see fully trained staff pick up patients from their place of residence and take them to and from hospital and clinical appointments.
Patients should be collected no more than one hour before their appointment.
To find out if you are eligible for non-emergency transport or to book transport on or after July 1, call TASL on 0808 164 4586. Or, the TASL Patient Experience Team can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.