Non-urgent patient transport drivers in Eastbourne are being assured they will get paid.
Sussex Clinical Commissioners have stepped up to the plate to say if Coperforma fails to deliver on promises on liabilities, they will foot the bill. Members of the GMB Union, who worked for Docklands Medical Services are being told they will get outstanding pay, dating back to April, over the coming weeks.
If Coperforma fail to meet any agreed and set pay dates going forward, the CCG’s have given assurance that funds will be made available to the Payroll company arranged by and sourced by the GMB, who have been given the task of sifting through the incredible mess left by Docklands, to ensure that pay is both correct and timely going forward until such times as staff have moved to another provider sourced and arranged as a result of Docklands ceasing trading.
Gary Palmer GMB Regional Organiser said, “Members are very pleased to hear the news that finally responsibility for this mess has been apportion to the right people and that they accept their need to put right a long standing embarrassment for PTS services and our members in Sussex.
“The agreement will see the Combine CCG’s accepting responsibility’s for money owing if Coperforma fail to deliver on their promises, a move both ourselves and the CCG’s agree is necessary considering staff’s treatment and experiences to date. The CCG would then look to recover that money back from Coperforma who have through the failures to carry out effective due diligence testing on those they sub-contract to.
“The GMB have engaged a Pay roll company to help out after the collapse of Docklands, to in the first instance assure that staff who have failed to be paid last month are given their pay, then to make sure that this month’s pay due at the end of September is actual delivered on time and is correct.
“We then expect to have to carry out an extensive piece of work to try and unpick all monies still outstanding by Coperforma from the collapse of both VM Langfords and Docklands medical services, and that’s not a small task I can assure you.
“We will continue through to prepare for the worst case scenario and that means we will continue to work on the case to wind up all companies involved, as a plan B should this agreement collapse leaving our members still owed outstanding pay, something we hope will no longer be needed.
“Of course what happens now around our members getting back out on the road delivering services to the patients of Sussex is still to be clarified and arranged now that for all intents and purposes Docklands have gone, but the priority was that we resolved the pay issue first which will see money in Banks.
“Our thanks of course go to everyone who have worked so hard to get us to this point, they are too many to mention everyone, but Sussex MP’s and councillors and others certainly need a mention and we will be contacting them separately to pass on both our thanks and the thanks of our members, for the incredible support.”
MP Caroline Ansell, who joined drivers at a protest in Eastbourne this week, has said, “I’m very pleased the CCG has stepped in and will ensure these drivers are paid this month.
“Thanks must firstly go to the drivers themselves for the dignified and selfless way they have behaved. They still went to work to ensure patients got to their appointments even though some were in severe hardship with unpaid rent and bills because of this mess.
“The GMB union should also be congratulated for ensuring this issue stayed in the spotlight and pressure was applied to get these drivers paid.
"Now it is time for the CCG to sort out what it intends to do with Coperforma so it can avoid similar problems in the future."
Stephen Lloyd said, “This is excellent news and I pay tribute to the GMB for securing this commitment from High Weald CCG. However, this does not take away the fact that the PTS service, which was outsourced to Coperforma last April, still appears to be providing either an inadequate patient service or inappropriate conditions for some of the transferred ambulance drivers. I maintain the CCG has overall responsibility for patient transport services in Sussex. It clearly is not as good as it was when it was within the NHS, so my view is High Weald CCG should remove the contract from Coperforma and return it where it belongs.”