Diagnosis? N.F.I.

The Art Of Procurement


A new Welsh ambulance

More Welsh laundry gets washed in the press this week:
Ambulance service slammed for wasting £2m.

As I posted earlier, if you employ amateurs in the back office then this is the sort of cock-up that happens. W.A.S. is not alone, the arsehole, oops sorry, manager in charge of procurement in my own service has got it wrong so many times that no one understands how he still manages to be employed – of course in the NHS no one ever gets sacked for incompetence.

The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust entered into an agreement in 2002 with a company to buy and fit out 30 emergency ambulances. But the company was declared insolvent before fitting out three of these ambulances. None of these three vehicles, which cost £83,000, has ever been used and they are still in storage. Furthermore it later emerged that the remaining vehicles did not comply with safety standards for emergency vehicles and had to be re-deployed within the patient care service.

And in 2005, the trust arranged to buy and convert 46 Renault Master vans at a cost of £2.4m. But, after they had been converted, it was found that the new ambulances had a weight overload on their front axles, rendering them potentially unsafe.The trust was forced to spend a further £120,000 to make them operational but it can only now use them to carry patients – no relatives are allowed to accompany patients in these vehicles.

The trouble seems to be that, despite input from ‘road’ staff, procurement is carried out by people who’ve never been on the road in their life and testing is usually left to officers/managers who last worked on a frontline vehicle when they still had starter handles. The first time staff get to ‘test’ them is when they’re already in active service.

A report by consultants has told the service that it must pre-test new emergency ambulances to prevent public money being wasted on vehicles that cannot be used to carry patients to hospital.

Talk about stating the bleedin’ obvious!