A FORMER ambulance driver claims Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has put “money first and patient care second” after changes to patient transport.
David Price, aged 64, from Myton Drive, Solihull Lodge, worked as a driver for 10 years taking patients to and from John Black Day Hospital and Solihull Hospital, as well as doing deliveries for the NHS.
On each ambulance there were two crew, one driver and one attendant to look after the patients with mental health problems.
But now the trust has decided to run the ambulance service with just a driver.
David said: “We had three rounds, Chelmsley Wood, Shirley and the sticks - Knowle and Dorridge, Hockley Heath and Earlswood.
“We had patients who were sick, others who needed our help being upset with dementia problems.
“This service worked very well for the past 17 years and the ambulance crew got to know the patients and gained their confidence.
“The Government has decided to privatise the service, and a new firm has taken over with a view to cutting costs.
“I asked what if a patient is sick or needs our attention? ‘Just write any incidents in the accident book,’ I was told.
“How can you work like this when sick people need our help? They say the patients are low risk, but you never know how they are going to react.
“I tried it for a fortnight and it didn’t work. I handed in my notice with my colleagues.
“I left because the caring part of the job was taken off us.
“This is money first, patient care second.”
Glynis Markham, director for strategic development for BSMHFT, said: “Changes to the staffing levels on the patient transport services, previously provided by Solihull Care Trust, were made to bring it in line with patient transport services provided in Birmingham East and North and South Birmingham PCT areas, where vehicles were staffed only by a driver.
“These changes were made via a comprehensive tendering process.
“Throughout the tendering exercise, incumbent suppliers who submitted tenders were made aware that the trust would only seek to use a single driver, except in exceptional circumstances where an additional trust escort would be provided.
“BSMHFT are sub-contracting the service, which was awarded to Amey, who have already taken on business from Solihull Care Trust.
“The main reason BSMHFT went out to tender was to have a single, trust-wide patient transport service agreement, as this service was previously carried out by four separate providers.
“Savings have been made without reducing the service quality.”