Staff at Docklands Medical Services, which provides non-urgent patient transport in Eastbourne and its surrounds, have been greeted with empty offices this morning.
Hand-scribbled notes have been stuck to doors saying “closed due to issues with Coperforma”, which is the firm in charge of hiring subcontractors to run the service across Sussex.
Docklands leave notice for Ambulance staff at St leonards. Both Bognor & Worthing stations also empty & closed. pic.twitter.com/ZZF1UhBvxo— Gary Palmer (@jannerinsussex) September 14, 2016
Drivers in Eastbourne, who all turned up for work this morning, are now heading to Brighton for a rally outside the TUC Conference at the Brighton Centre. They’re joining colleagues from across the county, who, along with the GMB Union, are calling for winding up orders of companies which still owe staff their wages. There are four drivers from Eastbourne who are still awaiting their August pay.
Earlier this month, a group of subcontractors, used by Coperforma, warned the service was in danger of going bust if financial issues were sorted as a matter of urgency.
Gary Palmer from the GMB Union said, “I would like to say that I was shocked by this morning’s news, but unfortunately I think everyone was expecting this, but apparently the only people who didn’t expect it was the CCGs and Coperforma and I think that sums up today’s situation, that they’ve lost touch with what’s going on in the patient transport service and we’re calling for immediately for Coperforma now to be found in breach of their contract. Clearly being 2-0 in companies going bust, they must have failed to do their due diligence, and accordingly, once again, staff and patients in Sussex are going to suffer for their incompetence.”
Former Eastbourne MP, Stephen Lloyd, who has yesterday started a petition demanding the High Weald CCG step in to remove the contract from Coperforma, the private company running Patient Transport Services in Sussex, added: "The whole situation just seems to go from bad to worse for the long suffering drivers and patients who have to put up with the utterly shambolic patient transport services run by Coperforma. It appears yet another one of their sub-contracted ambulance providers is set to go under and staff, former dedicated NHS staff I might add, left again in limbo. It is time for the responsible CCG, High Weald, to stop prevaricating and remove the contract from Coperforma and bring it back to the NHS where it belongs"