THE Welsh Assembly Government is being urged to re-think its contract with Air Products for its NHS home oxygen contract now the company is axing its Wrexham factory.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, Jenny Randerson yesterday called for an urgent review of the contract following news that Air Products will transfer 200 jobs from Wrexham to China.
The millions of pounds the company receives from the Welsh NHS should be reviewed, says the AM.
She said: “Since Air Products took over the Home Oxygen contract, the operation of it has been very worrying with massive overspends met by the Welsh taxpayer.
“I think it is absolutely wrong that the company thinks it can pull out of Wales, cutting hundreds of jobs and yet keep millions of pounds of public money through this contract.
“I think that as a matter of urgency, the Health Minister needs to look at the contract and consider very strongly whether or not it is in the country’s best interest for this contract to continue.”
Last year Ms Randerson highlighted a report by the Wales Audit Office into the home oxygen contract which showed it was costing the taxpayer £6m per year compared to the original estimate of just £2m
“The handling of the oxygen contract has been a national disgrace,” said Ms Randerson.
A spokesman for Air Products said: "The closure of our facility at Acrefair is regrettable and was a very difficult decision to take. We are sad that those jobs are likely to be lost but it is not true to say that jobs are being transferred to China.
"We are stunned at this attempt to relate that decision to the future of the Home Oxygen Service - a service supporting over 8,000 people in Wales - and cause unnecessary discomfort among our patients, many of whom are dealing with difficult health problems.
"The Air Products Home Oxygen Service in Wales has been of enormous benefit to patients who consistently report that they find it extremely reliable and effective.
"According to the Welsh Assembly Government’s key performance indicators, Air Products has been providing a consistently excellent service for several years. In a survey carried out by the Department of Health last year, oxygen patients gave the Home Oxygen Service in England and Wales a satisfaction rating of 95%.
"Whilst Jenny Randerson AM has been unable to attend the patient forums we regularly hold in Wales, we have had very positive endorsements from Assembly Members and Members of Parliament who have attended and taken the time to learn about the service the patients receive from Air Products. We have in the past extended an invitation to Ms Randerson to come along and meet some of our patients and learn for herself just how important the service is to them. Unfortunately she was unable to join us but we are very happy to extend the invitation again.
"Air Products Healthcare is fully committed to the NHS Home Oxygen Service and to Wales."