A new non-emergency ambulance contract for Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral will see additional staff based locally.
NHS commissioners have awarded a five-year contract to West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) starting from Saturday 6th April. The new service will provide around 180,000 journeys a year, taking eligible patients from their homes to hospitals and treatment centres for consultations, treatments and procedures including services relating to cancer, renal failure and bariatric surgery.
WMAS will use an additional 30 vehicles to the previous contract, most of which are wheelchair accessible which will allow patients to stay in their chair while they are helped into the vehicle at the start of their journey and out at the end, making their journey easier.
Additionally, the number of operating bases will increase from three to five, with sites in Macclesfield and on the Wirral complementing those in Crewe, Ellesmere Port and Warrington. Therefore, staff will not have to travel as far to work and will be able to operate more regularly in areas with which they are familiar.
The new contract will allow WMAS to recruit around 40 additional staff who, together with the existing staff, will use additional equipment bought to enhance care in various specialties including bariatrics – the branch of medicine that deals with obesity.
Dr Julia Huddart, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – one of the commissioners, said: "We and our partners recognised that this is an essential service for eligible patients. For that reason, we required potential providers to bid against a robust operating model that would ensure a high-quality, reliable and accessible service.
"The service specification was shaped by users of the existing service, with whom we worked closely throughout the tendering process."
Michelle Brotherton, WMAS non-emergency services operational delivery director, said: "Putting patient care first has always been our number one priority and we feel this new contract will allow us to provide the level of patient care we feel is appropriate. Our bid was the perfect balance of value for money and quality."
Unison staff side chair Stuart Gardner and GMB organiser Michael Buoey said: "All trade unions are pleased that WMAS has retained the contract, and we look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of our members, staff and patients in Cheshire, Warrington and the Wirral."
The contract was awarded by NHS Wirral CCG for itself and on behalf of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, NHS South Cheshire CCG, NHS Vale Royal CCG, NHS Warrington CCG, NHS West Cheshire CCG and NHS Wirral CCG.