Thursday 18, October 2012
Shadow health secretary backs union’s fight to keep PTS
A UNISON campaign against the privatisation of ambulance services has received backing from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.
The campaign launched at a public meeting at Manchester Town Hall this week to oppose the three-year contract awarded to Arriva Transport Solutions.
The Patient Transport Service (PTS) scored better on service quality, following an in-house bid with private companies for the North West region.
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Reddish and Denton said the fantastic turnout at the meeting showed the strength of feeling across Greater Manchester against the proposals.
He confirmed the campaign had the backing of the Labour MP Burnham, saying: “I also want to pass on my best wishes from Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health – we’re right behind this campaign.”
Mr Gwynne (below) fears this is just the beginning of privatisation within the NHS. He added: “It’s really evident the shocking speed of which our National Health Service is being dismantled and put under threat.”
Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese also stated his support
the campaign, saying “This is not the end, we must keep on fighting.”
Alan Manning, Regional
Secretary of North West TUC, detailed reasons why the PTS should remain within
control of the NHS.
He said: “The PTS is for patients who are too ill to arrive by public transport. Arriva buses provide a service, which is purely based on profits and shareholders.”
North West Ambulance driver,
Craig Wilde, provided personal insight as to why the service should be kept in-house.
He said: “Currently our staff are committed professionals, who are committed through and through. They go in (patients' homes) to make sure they are safe, secure, fed and clothed. They do this daily and it’s not part of the contract. They provide a special service and these people care about your families.”
Lucy Powell, Parliamentary
candidate for Central Manchester, said the Arriva contract was an “utter disgrace” and that
“the public will only realise it was a disgrace once it’s too late.”
She also warned of further privatisation within the NHS, adding: “This is a much wider agenda of this government.”
Paul Foley, UNISON North West Head of Health, reiterated calls for the public to stand up and fight against privatisation.
He said: “This will not be won by
speakers alone – it’s about campaigners. We should be in no doubt about what
this government are set out to do with our NHS.”
He added: “We must get angry; we must campaign, as our parents and indeed grandparents fought for our National Health Service.”
Unison has also launched a
petition, 'Save our NHS. Keep Manchester Ambulances Public.' Further meetings are planned.
On being awarded the contract, Jonathan May, managing director of Arriva Transport
Solutions, said: “We welcome the announcement by
NHS Blackpool that it has chosen Arriva Transport Solutions as the preferred
provider for a new contract to deliver non-emergency patient transport services
in Greater Manchester."
Mr May pointed out that Arriva Transport Solutions
already transports more than 3,900 patients to and from hospitals across the UK
He also claimed: “This contract will complement the existing non-emergency transport services we provide for NHS Trusts in the East Midlands, West Midlands, Derbyshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.
“We look forward to working with NHS Blackpool to ensure a smooth transition for all involved.”
Joanne Kerrigan, spokesperson for Arriva PLC, added: “Arriva Transport Solutions includes its subsidiary Ambuline, currently employs 530 people and works with public sector organisations across the UK to identify and deliver innovative solutions to help fulfil their transport needs more efficiently, including special education needs transport, social care transport and patient transport.”
By Andrew Bailey
* Images courtesy of UNISON
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