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94% Yes Vote At Kent NHS Transport

Monday, November 4, 2013

GMB Members At NSL Care Services On Kent NHS Patient Transport Vote For Action In Dispute Over Cuts To Conditions And Rota Changes 

Staff will not be bullied into accepting cuts to their terms and conditions that they have fought hard for and changes which will leave very sick patients stranded says GMB.

GMB members, employed by NSL Care Services on an outsourced contract for NHS patient transport in Kent, have returned an overwhelming majority to move to an official ballot for industrial action in dispute over changes to their terms and conditions and rota patterns. This was in an indicative ballot organized by the union. See notes to editors for GMB press release last week announcing the ballot.

GMB members voted 94% in favour of industrial action up to and including a withdrawal of labour, with 100% in favour of action in favour of industrial action stopping short of a withdrawal of labour.  The turnout was 87%.

Frank Macklin, GMB Regional Officer, said, “GMB members have sent the strongest possible message to NSL Care Services that they will not be bullied into accepting cuts to their terms and conditions that they have fought hard for and taken years to build and changes which will leave very sick patients stranded.

NSL Care Services has ignored these issues and is imposing new terms and conditions and a new rota system without first following a proper and meaningful consultation process and when that process has been exhausted, giving a proper notice of the change.

GMB will now write to the clinical commissioning groups in East & West Kent, all the Kent MP’s, the NHS Chief Executives in Kent and the leaders of all the councils in Kent to share our worries and concerns about the way this very important contract is being managed. They outsourced this contract so they are responsible for how it works.

Despite the best efforts of staff working on the front line who have regularly gone without their breaks, often staying on long after their shifts have finished and giving up their days off, NSL Care Services have decided to impose changes to their terms and condition that include increasing the hours they work in the week, reducing their holiday entitlement and forcing some of them to work bank holidays.

The new rota is a sham and will not work until we have been meaningfully consulted and had our chance to give our input first. We want management to come and speak with us, the experienced staff who do this job day in and day out.

Frontline staffs have also pointed out major problems with the new rotas such as the day shift finishing their shift before renal patients have finished their treatment and therefore not being able to be dropped home due to there being no staff to cover this. Management has responded by saying that this will be covered by the night shift. But in truth the night shift is very small and they are overrun with work for the first four hours of their shift. 

I have had several of my members in tears explaining to me how they feel they are being put in impossible positions when asked to stay on beyond their contracted hours to take seriously ill patients home. One member said to me “how can I possibly go home knowing that I have just left a terminally ill cancer patient at the hospital who has waited hours already to be dropped home, only to be told that the night shift will take him or her home when it is their turn”. The truth is it is not just one isolated case, it is ongoing. When we raise this with management we are ignored.

Since the start of the contract the GMB members concerns have been ignored NSL Care Services.”


Contact: Frank Macklin, GMB Organiser on 07983 326743 or GMB Press Office: 07974 251823 or 020 7391 6755.

Notes to editors:

Copy of GMB press release issued on Tuesday 29th October 2013

GMB Members Working For NSL Care Services On Kent’s NHS Patient Transport Contract To Be Balloted For Industrial Action

The NSL workforce’s moral is rock bottom and this latest move by NSL has left GMB members with no choice but to take this action says GMB.

GMB, the union for NHS employees is to hold a consultative industrial action ballot of GMB members working on Kent’s NHS patient transport contract. The result will be known on Friday 1st November 2013.

GMB has been in talks with the private contract employer NSL Care Services over proposed new rotas and the company’s abandoning of these talks by the employer.

Frank Macklin, GMB Organiser said, “GMB has not and will not agree to any change to NSL staff rotas without first consulting the GMB affected and reaching an agreed way forward democratically.  NSL Care Services management has lied to their employee’s about GMB having agreed to a new controversial rota system the company want to implement.

As a result of these actions GMB has been left with no alternative but to ballot GMB members to see if they want to take industrial action if NSL goes ahead and imposes the new rota system without their agreement.

The dedicated group of NHS professionals were transferred to NSL Care Services from various NHS and Ambulance trusts under formal transfer of engagement regulations (TUPE). This was part of a new super contract for patient transport covering the whole of Kent. The contract was one of the first to be delivered by the new Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Since the contract went live there has been one problem after another and the staff on the frontline have had to bear the brunt of the frustration and anxiety of the NHS Trusts and patients using the new service, through no fault of their own.

GMB has written to NSL to express its disappointment with this latest development and to raise a collective grievance on behalf of GMB members.

The NSL workforce’s moral is rock bottom and this latest move by NSL has left GMB members with no choice but to take this action.”


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