latest health care news

26.08.16

Calls to strip Coperforma of Sussex patient transport contract over ‘staff pay cuts’

The company providing transport services for vulnerable patients in Sussex has faced calls for it to lose its contract over allegations that it is cutting staff’s pay.

Ambulance workers’ union GMB said it had been informed that subcontractor Coperforma is planning to dismiss staff and offer them a new contract with reduced pay and conditions.

The staff were transferred from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) after it lost the contract to provide patient transport services in April.

Sussex CCGs then awarded the contract, which covers transport to medical appointments for patients who cannot drive or use public transport owing to medical difficulties, to Coperforma.

The staff initially worked for VM Langfords, a Coperforma company, which was replaced by Docklands Medical Services after it went into administration.

The alleged wages cut breaches Coperforma’s commitment to protect staff’s earnings under Transfer of Undertakings Regulations.

In June, Sussex CCGs produced a report criticising Coperforma for “unacceptable levels of performance”, with patients having problems contacting the service and being collected late or not at all.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said: “From the very start when this contract was awarded to Coperforma despite the many missed warning signs, their delivery, accountability and responsibility has been seen to fail in all measures by everyone except the CCGs responsible. This outright failure to keep promises must not be.

“I hope now that the CCGs will finally see that Coperforma have outstayed their welcome. Docklands Medical Services must not be allowed to dismiss loyal staff and take them back on lesser contracts and Coperforma must pay outstanding monies owed from the VM Langfords’ collapse immediately.

“No more chances, no more waiting until the dust hopefully settles, the time has come to remove Coperfoma and all those that would put profit before patients and staff."

NHE reported last week that SECAmb has now lost another non-emergency patient transport contract, to be replaced by South Central Ambulance Service.

The trust has come under fire after it emerged that it secretly introduced a protocol to deliberately downgrade 111 calls, and is having ongoing problems answering calls on time.

(Image c. Peter Byrne from PA Wire)

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