As the combined Sussex CCGs shamefully watch the service run into the ground, it seems very unlikely that the service in its current state will be around for much longer says GMB.
GMB has warned of risks to patients’ health as transport provision for weekend renal and oncology patients in Sussex is handed to a local cab firm.
The union has called for Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to urgently publish direct guidelines for private hire drivers working for the private hire company and to ensure that all journeys and vehicles meet the same safety, clinical and cleanliness standards as qualified ambulance providers.
GMB has also called for the CCGs to clarify the cost implications of running this service. Figures analysed by the press association in April (Wednesday 6th April 2016) found that many NHS trusts spent more than £200,000 a year on taxi services for patients.
Gary Palmer, GMB regional Organiser, said “Splitting Sussex patient transport services by employing dozens of private ambulance providers was bad enough, but this move to use the city’s taxi firm to deliver vital patient transport is a worrying step towards seeing patient safety in Sussex become a thing of the past.
Our members have always said that Coperforma’s involvement would see the service they knew decimated and that because they only ever viewed staff as drivers, that using a taxi service was a real possibility to maximise profit, regardless of patient satisfaction and safety.
Current PTS ambulance professionals and GMB members are shocked at the disregard for the potential of serious cross infection for patients and the public alike. Drivers looking to maximise customers and fares are unlikely to carry out the same stringent and rigorous cleaning procedures between journeys as professionals in patient transport, and without the appropriate training they will be unable to provide the high quality of care that patients require.
GMB is calling on Sussex CCGs to publish direct guidelines for private hire companies working as part of Sussex CCGs. We would also ask that they clarify the cost implications of running this service in addition to the current weekend provision and also confirm if private hire vehicles are to charge at normal metered weekend rates which would be vastly different to the charges from ambulance contractors for service provision. Can they assure the public that drivers will not be encouraged to charge for uncompleted journeys, when patients make their way home under their own steam?
Long suffering service users in Sussex are unlikely to have to watch Coperforma continue to ruin a once decent NHS patient transport service for much longer. As the combined Sussex CCGs shamefully watch the service run into the ground, it seems very unlikely that, in its current state, it will be around for much longer.”
Contact: Gary Palmer on 07552165950, Charles Harrity on 07977518042 or GMB press office on 07970 863411