A CHARITY which delivers blood products has hit out at hospital bosses after being snubbed in contract negotiations.
Warwickshire and Solihull Bloodbikes (WSBB) wants to know why it was excluded from the tendering process for the contract to deliver products for Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service.
The service is based at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) and supplies blood samples and medical items to four local hospitals, nine clinical commissioning groups and some 250 GP practices.
WSBB – which was founded in 2012 – offers out-of-hours motorbike delivery of blood products and in that time has made 7,000 calls for pathology, which they say has saved the NHS some £700,000.
Volunteers say they have been left ‘shocked’ at not being consulted before a decision was made to award the contract to QE Facilities – a subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, based in the north east.
But UHCW – where the service is based – says while the Bloodbikes made an ‘invaluable contribution’, they delivered less than one per cent of the 10million blood products handled by the pathology service last year.
WSBB chairman Mark Lavery said: “Through our own enquiries we found out UHCW has chosen to pay a company for work we have previously done for free. We are devastated the NHS could make such an award without consulting us.
“All our unpaid volunteers are shocked at the decision. We have committed significant time and effort to grow the group and public donations have enabled us to invest in five vehicles to maintain service in all weathers 365 days a year. All that is now in jeopardy.”
Mr Lavery told the Observer while WSBB could not have taken on the whole contract, the charity could have continued offering the same level of service it was, and saved the NHS money doing so.
The charity said it was now faced with closure but would try to continue its work supporting other Bloodbike groups and the Air Ambulance.
And it is calling for an investigation to determine why it was excluded from the tendering process.
Mr Lavery added: “We believe an investigation is warranted to determine how and why an experienced and reputable charity can be sacrificed in a cash-strapped NHS. It is totally beyond comprehension how taxpayers funds can be used to increase the profits of a company when there is a proven free service already in place.
“Both the tendering process, where WSBB was totally ignored, and the appalling lack of communication, need a thorough review. In these days of apparent transparency there has been none.”
But UHCW says it previously used a range of delivery suppliers and an increase in demand meant it needed to ‘standardise’ the system.
A spokesman said: “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 accreditation requirements, are met and exceeded.
“In line with public sector procurement regulations, we went out to open tender.
“All previous suppliers – including volunteers from the Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes – have been informed of the changes and thanked for their invaluable contribution.”