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Jobs to go at Red Cross after loss of patient transport service

Contract given to Bus Vannin by DHSC

Jobs are expected to go at the Red Cross after the charity lost the contract to provide the Island’s patient transport service to Bus Vannin.

The Red Cross will no longer ferry Manx patients to and from Nobles Hospital, with Bus Vannin taking on the transport service from July.

The charity's Isle of Man Development Manager, Martin Birchenough, says they're ‘hugely disappointed a strong application’ was rejected by government, and are now working to reduce the impact on staff.

The move ‘in-house’ comes following a full tender process according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which has thanked the Red Cross for its ten years of service.

However, the charity claim the tender process was cancelled before the Department chose to the appoint the government-owned bus service as the new operator.

Minibuses which already operate in the Island’s public transport network will be used as part of the new operation, which DHSC officials say will offer more 'flexible pick-up times'.

Bus Vannin drivers have received training in first aid as well as moving and handling patients , whilst the Mercedes Sprinter buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts and seats ready to provide the service.

Health Minister David Ashford said the decision to award the contract to Bus Vannin ‘didn’t reflect any dissatisfaction’ with the Red Cross.

He sees the move as an ‘opportunity to tap into the minibus service and integrate journeys between home and hospital’.

7000 journeys were made each year by Red Cross workers and volunteers according to the charity, which says users were ‘highly satisfied’ with the professionalism and care shown by drivers.

It's possible government could show an interest in hiring some of these drivers to operate within the new Bus Vannin service.

Existing journeys shouldn't be affected by the transition, and bookings for the new service are now being taken.

The new contract starts from July 1.

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