Anger after transport firm asks disabled woman to ‘take a taxi’

jpco-12-9-12 Vanessa Kirby (Pic by Jon Rigby) ENGSUS00120121109135750
jpco-12-9-12 Vanessa Kirby (Pic by Jon Rigby) ENGSUS00120121109135750

A disabled woman has criticised Crawley’s health service planners after staff at new hospital transport provider Coperforma asked her, ‘Can’t you just take a taxi?’.

Vanessa Kirby, 67, of Bewbush, missed an appointment at East Surrey Hospital she booked months in advance after she stopped breathing three times on her birthday in February.

She criticised Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as Coperforma’s delays and missed appointments have continued for almost a month.

Vanessa was told repeatedly that Coperforma would pick her up when she called ahead of her appointment on April 21.

More than four hours and ten calls later, she said staff told her no transport was coming and asked her, ‘Can’t you just take a taxi?’.

Coperforma took over from previous provider South East Coast Ambulances Services on April 1. Vanessa claimed it used a cheaper, less ‘person-orientated’ booking system. She said: “This was the first time I’ve used the new Coperforma service and it hasn’t worked. I was stressed enough that I was going to this appointment, the fact I didn’t was even more stressful.

“The CCG have hired these people because they’ve said they can do the job but they are not doing it.

“It’s not working, you keep getting these people that are saying, ‘Yes, yes, it’s fine everything’s working fine,’ but now it’s been going since the beginning of April - it should be sorted.”

She added: “What’s the point of making appointment if I cannot get there, it’s ridiculous.

“If this happens next time I just won’t go, a lot of people just won’t go.”

Dr Amit Bhargava, chief clinical officer for the Crawley CCG, said: “We are very sorry to hear of Ms Kirby’s experiences with the Patient Transport Service. Crawley CCG is always working on behalf of the population, especially the most vulnerable and frail, to ensure they receive safe and effective health services. We have been working with our co-commissioners in Sussex right from the beginning of the month to ensure that the deficiencies in Coperforma’s service are addressed speedily for all patients, particularly those going to hospital for dialysis and cancer care. All the Sussex CCGs are holding regular operational meetings with Coperforma to monitor the local position, and the on-going impact on our patients. Coperforma now has service delivery teams in hospitals across the county dealing with PTS issues and working with each individual hospital to develop local action plans specific to individual sites and localities.”

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