UNIONS have accused an NHS ambulance trust of putting jobs and patient safety at risk after it pulled out of its contract to provide patient transport services.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service will end its £25m deal to transport vulnerable patients to and from healthcare appointments in Warrington, Cheshire and the Warrington next year.

WMAS won the contract from the North West Ambulance Service in 2015, and a five-year contract should have run until 2021.

But unions say the it has quit the deal due to a ‘funding crisis’.

GMB organiser Mike Buoey said: “WMAS made no attempt to consult with GMB before dropping this bombshell on members who provide this service.

“WMAS says it will ditch the contract in 2019, and our concern now is for our members’ jobs and the vulnerable patients they transport.

“If a funding crisis is affecting the delivery of patient transport services in Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral then both NWAS and commissioners will need to explain why they have allowed this to happen.”

But the ambulance service has hit back at GMB, accusing the union of ‘scaremongering’.

The trust said that services would be unaffected, with the contract to go back out to tender.

Michelle Brotherton, non-emergency services operational delivery director at WMAS, said: “When the trust briefed staff representatives about the situation the GMB representative was not present – Unison and Unite did attend and their officials were fully aware and understood why the trust was being forced to act in the way in which it has.

“Due to the centralisation of some services, which has resulted in longer journeys, the contract is considerably different to that which was tendered in 2016.

“Unfortunately, this is not a sustainable position without additional funding and as a trust we were not prepared to provide a suboptimal service.

“We completely understand the reasons why the CCGs were unable to increase the funding.”

Dr Andrew Davies, clinical chief officer at the CCG, said “This is nothing to do with any funding crisis, the reality is that the requirement to withdraw and re-tender is purely down to the limitations of procurement law.

“Nothing will change for patients and they will not be affected in any way by this process”

WMAS will continue to deliver the service as in the inerim.