The Warwickshire and Solihull group of The National Association of Blood Bikes has been replaced as part of a new £14million contract with QE Facilities Ltd.
The National Association of Blood Bikes is a charity which relies on volunteers to provide free out-of-hours medical transport and delivery across the UK – but it’s just been replaced as the result of a £14 million pound deal with a limited company which runs until 2022.
The University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has ended its long-standing arrangement with the Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service and the Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes. The service which was previously offered by the WSBB’s volunteers since it was founded in 2012 will now be carried out by QE Facilities Ltd as part of a new £14 million contract.
Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes claim they were excluded from the tendering process. Speaking about the news, Mark Lavery, chairman of WSBB said: “We are shell shocked and gutted. We found out by accident three weeks ago when someone spotted a delivery vehicle at University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire. At no stage have we been involved in the tendering process. It was through making our own enquiries we found out that UHCW has chosen to pay a company for work we have previously done free-of-charge.
“We are devastated the NHS could make such an award without consulting us. We have completed over 7,000 calls in all weather conditions since we were founded in 2012 and it is estimated we have saved UHCW nearly £700,000 in that time. All our unpaid volunteers are shocked at the decision. We have committed significant time and effort to grow the group where public donations have enabled us to invest in five vehicles to maintain service in all weathers 365 days a year.”
A University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust spokesman said: “The Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service (CWPS) serves 1.6 million patients, four acute hospitals, nine Clinical Commissioning Groups and more than 250 GP practices. It runs a transport and logistics service to safely transfer blood samples and other medical items between hospitals and other sites. Demand has grown massively and approximately ten million samples were handled in 2018/19.
“The transport service was previously delivered by a wide range of suppliers, with some contracted through CWPS and others through third party organisations. With complexities increasing and the service potentially expanding to cover areas such as Hereford and Worcester, a decision was made to standardise delivery to ensure current and future needs, as well as stringent UK accreditation requirements, are met and exceeded. In line with public sector procurement regulations, we went out to open tender and supplier days were held to inform organisations of our requirements.
“This process has now concluded and the contract awarded to QE Facilities, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust. Any profit generated is reinvested in health care, not transferred to independent shareholders. Our aim now is to ensure the service continues to go from strength to strength and helps to further enhance the patient experience.”
The spokesman added: “All previous suppliers – including volunteers from the Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes – have been informed of the changes and thanked for their invaluable contribution. We offered to continue utilising Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes until at least June 2019 while we supported them in exploring new opportunities. Since then, representatives have informed us by email of their decision to withdraw the service from 1st April. It should be noted Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes transported approximately 1,000 samples a year – 0.01% of the total received by CWPS. We are immensely grateful to the group for its hard work and support.”