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Ambulance Workers' Phones Cut Off

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ambulance Workers’ Phones Cut Off As Provider Fails To Pay Phone Bills

The responsibility for this desperate situation lies ultimately with the ill-considered decision made by Sussex CCGs says GMB

GMB, the union for ambulance workers, has called on all Sussex CCGs to take direct control of the Patient Transport Service for Sussex following reports from GMB members that ambulance workers’ phones have been shut off due to unpaid bills. (See notes to editors for previous GMB press releases about Sussex patient transport services).

Details of where and when patients should be picked up were previously communicated with ambulance staff via a smart phone app installed on the company phones. Due to provider VM Langfords not paying the mobile phone bill, the app facility is no longer available meaning that once again patients in Sussex are being denied full access to a vital part of the national health.

Charles Harrity, GMB Senior Organiser, said “The crisis engulfing Sussex PTS is a direct result of the Sussex CCGs accepting and awarding the provider contract to Coperforma. For allowing a private company to effectively sub contract services to other companies, the CCG must take full responsibility for the crisis and for having placed the patients who rely on their service at risk.

It is clear that Coperforma’s model of subcontracting front line services does not work, but the responsibility for this desperate situation lies ultimately with the ill-considered decision made by Sussex CCGs.

It is now time for them to live up to their responsibility to ensure that the people and patients of Sussex have a comprehensive health service which they can rely on when it is most needed.

They cannot simply wash their hands of this mess. GMB calls on the CCGs to bring some control to this situation and the first must be to bring the patient transport back into direct NHS control and ensure that the people of Sussex have the service they deserve and need.”


Contact: Gary Palmer on 07552165950 Paul Maloney on 07801343839 Charles Harrity on 07977518042 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 07739 182691

Notes to editors

1 GMB press release dated Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GMB Condemn Sussex CCGs For “Avoidable” Crisis In Sussex Patient Transport

The people of Sussex deserve better service and consideration than that which has been provided by these CCGs says GMB.

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, condemned Sussex CCGs today for taking decisions that led to the current crisis in Sussex patient transport despite a warning from the union in January.  (See notes to editors for a copy of a letter to Coastal and West Sussex CCG).

GMB, along with other trade unions, wrote to Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group on January 23rd 2016 warning of an “impending catastrophe” if a patient transport services (PTS) contract was awarded to Coperforma. The CCG dismissed these concerns and proceeded to award the contract to the provider.

Another of the providers involved in the contract, VM Langfords, appointed insolvency administrators on Friday (17th June 2016) after 5 of its vehicles were removed as payment for the company's mounting debts.

Charles Harrity, GMB Senior Organiser, said “The CCGs’ refusal to listen to the concerns raised by GMB has led to the people of Sussex having to put up with an inferior service since April and this entirely avoidable crisis has now deepened with VM Langford’s going to the wall.

The people of Sussex deserve better service and consideration than that which has been provided by these CCGs’ members.

It seems the same mistakes are about to be repeated as attempts are made to find a buyer for VM Langfords within just 5 days. Members of the CCG have not given themselves anywhere near enough time to carry out the due diligence necessary to find a responsible buyer for this vital public service. If they could not get it right in  6 months it is unlikely that they will get it right in 5 days.”


2 Letter to Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group dated Saturday 23rd January 2016

Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group                               

Ms Wendy Carberry,

                                                We GMB, Unison, Unite and Royal College of Nursing as Joint Trade Unions are writing to express our grave concerns that your decision to handover the delivery of Sussex Patient Transport Services to a Managed Service Provider has every potential for serious repercussions to Service Users, NHS A+E services and our work colleagues from the Patient Transport Service.

We are deeply perturbed by the expectancy of impending catastrophe we can foresee as Coperforma, with limited inside knowledge in the field will go into business with three private providers that have no previous experience of handling patient transport on such a large scale. It is debatable that these private transport providers will meet the Standards set out by the NHS and as such may fail to provide high quality of care for patients.

We wish to also raise our concern and suggest you urgently investigate as to how Coperforma uses World Class Governance, Risk, Compliance and Improvement Management (GRC) to provide their Board of Directors with a consistent and impartial view of performance and management control of Transport Service and Transport Partners on an ongoing basis. We ask how this process can be transparent when GRC is a sister company to Coperforma and they are subsequently run from the same address.  Further the concern pertaining to Coperforma is exacerbated by the engagement meetings held by them, where they were unable to give any reassurance to SECAMB staff in regards to potential future employers, location of headquarters and basic policy of operating procedures. The current SECAMB staff  espouse to their trust values and the Francis 6 C’s, we are shocked to see that when requested by staff, Coperforma were unable to provide any such Values and to date hold no such values on record.

Therefore, we feel compelled to request that the decision to privatise Sussex Patient Transport Services is reversed and that you formally investigate our grave and serious concerns.

We request that you respond in writing within seven working days to the Joint Union Staff Side Chair Mr Trevor  The Horseshoe, Bolters Lane, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 2AS.

 GMB Branch Secretary S69                                                      UNISON Branch Secretary

 Jason Dicker                                                                               Peter Steventon

UNITE the UNION Branch Secretary                                         Royal College of Nursing

 Trevor Freeman                                                                        






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