‘What matters is that services are free to all’

Grantham MP Nick Boles.
Grantham MP Nick Boles.
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IT is “absolutely right” that private sector firms provide public services, Grantham’s MP has said this week.

NHS Lincolnshire is the latest public body in the county to hand a multi-million pound contract to a private firm, a move Conservative MP Nick Boles supports.

The contract for non-emergency patient transfers was awarded to NSL Ltd over the public-owned East Midlands Ambulance Service which has run the service previously.

The five-year contract is worth £26 million in Lincolnshire, and £130 million across the region.

Mr Boles said: “We have to get more for less. Budgets are not going to grow as they used to.

“We want to continue to have good services, and indeed better services, as our ageing population demands more services. We do need to be innovative and flexible with the money we’ve got.

“What matters to me, and I think matters in truth to most people, is that a service is provided for free, that we don’t have to pay for it, and it is provided to everyone who needs it. That’s what makes a public service.”

Mr Boles added that by allowing private firms to carry out support work, time is freed up for services such as EMAS and Lincolnshire Police to focus on frontline and emergency work.

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan has spoken of his “disappointment” with NHS Lincolnshire’s decision to award the contract to NSL Ltd.

He added: “We had plans to completely replace our existing fleet with brand new, eco-friendly vehicles and we expected to have these available by the time the new tenders were to start.”

The new NSL-run vehicles will be fitted with satellite navigation and text messaging pick-up reminders.

There will be no cuts to the service. Existing employees will be eligible for new jobs.

l Do you think it is right that private sector firms work heavily within public services? Or is it a recipe for disaster? E-mail: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk