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Friday 25th May 2018

Oxygen contractor change

10th August 2006

10082006_breathing_mask1.jpgAir Products, the NHS oxygen contractor whose supply problems were claimed to have contributed to a woman’s death has had to transfer part of its work to a rival, reports the Times.

It is to hand its contract for the South West region to BOC, the British industrial gases group. Air Products is presently conducting an investigation into the death of the woman.

Air Products is one of four companies that signed agreements with the Department of Health last year to supply oxygen to patients at home, the others being Allied Oxycare/Medigas, BOC and Linde Gas. The plan was instigated to provide a more efficient and cheaper service for patients requiring oxygen cylinders, and to help reduce the annual £600 million cost of emergency admissions of patients suffering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The switchover from Air Products to BOC starts in October, and comes after severe supply problems in the early stages of the new system put thousands of people with breathing difficulties at risk.  It fuelled concerns over the Government’s increasing reliance on the private sector to carry out NHS work.

There has been speculation that Air Products opted to hand over its contract for the South West to prevent it from having all work withdrawn. A spokesman for the group, however, said it had withdrawn because it was “in the best interests of patients that we focus our resources on the other areas we serve?. There had been much greater demand for home oxygen supply than had been expected when the Government awarded the contracts, he continued.

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