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Independents' Day

Union stages protests at Sussex GP practices over unpaid ambulance staff

Several GP practices in Sussex run by GP commissioning leads are facing a wave of protests from unpaid ambulance staff, after the collapse of a sub-contracted provider.

The GMB union said the 20 staff are already owed thousands of pounds and have been left in limbo after Docklands Medical Services, which ran the ambulance service, appeared to fold on Tuesday.

The union is blaming the local CCGs for failing to carry out sufficient background checks on private provider Coperforma – which subcontracted Docklands Medical Services – before handing it the contract to run patient transport services in April this year.

The first protest took place on Wednesday outside the practice of NHS Brighton and Hove CCG chair Dr Xavier Nalletamby, and GMB said further action is planned from next Tuesday at practices of GP leaders of the seven CCGs responsible for signing off the contract.

GMB southern regional representative Gary Palmer told Pulse the staff at Docklands Medical Services were already owed between £3,000 and £4,000 each, and were now in limbo after turning up at work on Tuesday to find the company had removed all the vehicles and equipment.

It comes after the previous subcontracted provider – VM Langford – went into liquidation just 11 weeks ago.

The union wants the CCGs to take the contract away from Coperforma and hand it back to an NHS provider.

Mr Palmer said NHS High Weald Lewes and Haven CCG was the lead commissioning group on the deal, but that the union was taking its protest to all the GPs and other commissioning chiefs who signed it off.

A Coperforma spokesman said: ‘We can assure all patients that there will be no impact on the provision of the patient transport service across Sussex because one of the key benefits of the Coperforma managed service is that we can quickly switch capacity, as we have done in this case, to another provider.’

Pulse contacted NHS High Weald Lewes and Haven CCG but has not received a response.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Oh dear. The commissioning chickens are coming home to roost

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  • Vinci Ho

    As a 'kind' reminder , this is the wonderful evil consequences of Health and Social Care Act especially section 75 , GP is CCG and CCG is GP simply put. Fact is Andrew Lansley had really got himself famous in the history book as the genius to start the process of destroying NHS( whether one buys the fundamental ethos of NHS is a separate matter). Mr Hunt is merely a executioner with zero compassion and benevolence.
    Furthermore , forthcoming Trans-Atlantic Trade and Industry Partnership (TTIP) or similar deal(s) ,after Brexit ,will inevitably become 'essential' for the government , which is of the GDP , by the GDP and for the GDP(yes , yes, I am a naive idealistic bas***d).
    The mixture of HSCB +TTIP is the 'perfect toxin' this government and its spin doctors to administer .....

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  • Why is the statement always about patient care? What about those people working who are not getting paid, have done the work, have their own expenses and also dependent a to feed. Why does no one think about the providers of the service, rather than just the entitled users?

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  • Who is going to fulfil the contract now ?

    The work doesn't just go away.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Read Julian Tudor Hart( the creator of Inverse Cate Law)'s insightful article on latest BMJ: The people's NHS: time for a new hypothesis ? Almost 90 years old, his arguments are crystal clear , some mental power I would look up to if ever I could live that longevity .
    His simple , solid statement is government(s) simply passes the responsibility for the potential collapse of NHS to all of us, medical professionals :
    ''Why did our government have to initiate a collision with its NHS workforce in England, when regional governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were managing equally well (or badly) without it? Why was it found necessary to impose added workload on an already understaffed and underfunded service? Should we not recognise at least the possibility of a different hypothesis: that in the eyes of majority public opinion, responsibility for collapse of the NHS as we have known it might seem transferable from government to healthcare professionals?

    If this hypothesis were true, it would suggest an extremely dangerous gamble, an act of desperate stupidity. But without some such move, economic sustainability for the NHS seems to become ever more remote. The gap between what could be done, and what actually is done, threatens to become socially intolerable—not because our population is becoming older and sicker, but because useful scientific knowledge will continue to grow exponentially and irresistibly, and with it, the social duty to apply that knowledge wherever it is needed. No elected government can afford to be seen as responsible for evading this duty; so a plausible scapegoat must be found.''

    BMJ 17/9/2016

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  • Vinci Ho

    'Inverse Care Law'

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  • of course the work will go away. Entitlement to non-urgent transport will wither on the vine as there will be no money for it.
    In our area it was suggested district nurses stop all home visits. Transport bring the entitled to a central hub for treatment. Nursing home patients got in house nursing only. Non-entitled make their own way to clinic.
    Visits only for those whom it would be dangerous to move out of their own house i.e. almost none. very efficient system

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  • I have seen ambulances being called just to provide a taxi service pretty frequently.

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