Failure to pay patient transport service staff ‘unacceptable’

Patient transport service vehicles used by SECAmb before the contract was taken over by Coperforma

Patient transport service vehicles used by SECAmb before the contract was taken over by Coperforma

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Failure to pay staff working in Sussex’s patient transport service is ‘unacceptable’, according to doctors who commissioned the contract.

Coperforma took over the PTS back in April from South East Coast Ambulance Service and according to the company itself the service is ‘on the road to recovery after its disastrous start six months ago’.

But employees at one of its sub-contractors claim they have not been paid for several weeks, with the GMB union stepping in to offer drivers supermarket vouchers so they can put food on the table.

Wendy Carberry, chief officer of High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, said: “It is unacceptable that some Docklands Medical Services (DMS) staff have still not been paid.

“We have been in frequent contact with Coperforma, who manage the patient transport contract, DMS and the unions in a bid to resolve this.

“We are looking at the contract to see what levers and influence we can bring to sort out the problem.

“In the meantime we would like to thank staff who are continuing to work and deliver a service to patients despite not being paid.”

But the GMB is due to stage a protest outside the surgery of the chair of the Brighton and Hove CCG tomorrow (Wednesday September 14).

However the GMB is due to stage a protest outside the surgery of the chair of the Brighton and Hove CCG tomorrow (Wednesday September 14).

This will be followed by a presentation of the hardship payments to GMB members at the TUC conference at the Brighton Conference Centre.

Paul Maloney, GMB regional secretary, said “The doctors who made the decision to outsource the service have to accept responsibility for the failure of the contract to pay the wages of the staff and keep the ambulances in fuel.

“GMB will protest outside each of the surgeries of the doctors who made the decision that has led to these NHS staff not being paid. GMB will also seek winding up orders in court against all of the companies involved. In the meantime GMB will provide hardship payments to the members to enable them to buy food for their families.”

In his petition Mr Lloyd said: “It has become crystal clear that since Coperforma were granted the non-urgent patient care transport ambulance contract this April by High Weald CCG, the service provided to patients has been poor.

“And that many loyal NHS drivers who were forced to move to Coperforma and other private providers such as Docklands Medical Services have been let down. In many cases their pay arriving late and in some cases not at all. Further that some have not received owed back pay.

“This is totally unacceptable and it is the responsibility of High Weald CCG, who agreed the original contract with Coperforma, to step up and actually take ownership of their woeful decision.

“They should remove Coperforma’s contract and bring it back into the NHS. This way patients in Sussex can be confident they will receive a high quality service and the drivers will treated fairly.”

Meanwhile in a statement released today, Michael Clayton, Coperforma’s chief executive, said: “Thanks to the hard work of our employees, contractors and the support of the Sussex CCG, the service is now well on the road to recovery after its disastrous start six months ago.”

He added: “Our performance data is regularly reporting that the service is operating at 94% of the required key performance targets which are considerably higher than those experienced by patients under the previous provider.

“The recovery to date has been achieved against a continuous background of criticism which initially was completely justified but that is no longer the case, and patients across the county are receiving a reliable and safe service delivered by caring and dedicated crews.”

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