COUNTY NEWS: Cause for strike over patient transport service

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Union members in Sussex are being balloted for strike action amid a dispute over a new patient transport service.

The GMB union announced today (Tuesday, April 19) the action was being taken after saying it will no longer take part in negotiations with Coperforma, which took over a four-year contract to provide patient transport services from April 1.

GMB members transferred to Coperforma from their old employer, South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb).

The union has criticised the new provider over its lack of planning, engagement and openness with staff.

Members from Coperforma’s Eastbourne and Durrington-on-Sea sites will be balloted between tomorrow (Wednesday, April 20) and Friday, April 29.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said: “After speaking to distressed and devastated staff GMB has found no alternative but to implement this further sanction against Coperforma who continue to fail our members. Morale is at an all-time low.”

Since Coperforma took over from SECAmb, hundreds of patients across Sussex have faced long delays and cancelled operations after patient transport turned up late and even failed to arrive.

Coperforma has since apologised to all patients affected over the delays.

Last week, a spokeswoman for Coperforma said the GMB had stated in a public forum and in a subsequent direct communication that the union would not take part in any discussion with Coperforma.

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