A private ambulance firm has gone into administration - just seven months after it was awarded the contract to run non-emergency patient transport services in Herts.
Staff at Private Ambulance Service Ltd were told the news by email on Friday.
Tim Roberts, spokesman for trade union UNISON which represents staff at the company, said: ““We have been very concerned about this company for months.
“Both patients and staff have suffered. We know of numerous cases of vulnerable patients not being collected from hospital and ambulances that failed to meet even basic standards of road worthiness.
“Wages were not being paid, credit lines were closing down, and contributions to the pension schemes held back. It was obvious that the company was dying on its feet.”
The East of England Ambulance Service has been asked to take over the role on a caretaker basis.
Kathryn Magson, accountable officer for Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group which oversees local healthcare, said: “Making sure that we provide a quality, safe service for our patients is our absolute priority.
“We have been working closely with UNISON and East of England Ambulance Service to ensure that we can deliver continuity of service at this difficult time and we are satisfied that the new caretaker arrangements will help us to deliver this as a matter of urgency.
“We hope that returning the contract for non-emergency transport to an established NHS provider will give assurance to our patients.
“Together with East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the hospitals, we are working hard to make sure that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum during this transition. However, some non-urgent appointments may be rescheduled while the new contract establishes, so that we can prioritise patients who are being discharged from hospital or attending appointments for cancer treatments and dialysis.”