GMB applaud decision to extend NHS contract for Sussex Patient Transfer

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Sussex Patient Transport Service safe in NHS hands for a further 12 months after contract extension

GMB, the union for all Ambulance Service staff, are applauding the decision to award Sussex’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport to South Central Ambulance Trust until April 2023, an extension of the existing contract by 12 months. The union lauds this as a ratification of the outstanding service that the SCAS Trust, and therefore GMB members who work in the trust, deliver on a day to day basis.

The workers on the contract are tasked with safely transporting patients between their homes and hospital buildings, and that the staff have been doing this so efficiently through the Covid pandemic shows that remaining in-house really does remain the only viable option for the service.

This award is hopefully the first step to awarding a longer continuation of contract to SCAS and securing NHS jobs and services for the benefit of patients and staff alike for years to come, especially given the wider context of the Sussex PTS contract. When this was previously outsourced by the county’s combined CCGs to Coperforma, it resulted in patients being left at home and abandoned in hospital discharge lounges, due to cost cutting and profiteering by the private firm.

GMB have written to the local CCGs, calling for this good news to be the catalyst for a complete re-think and overhaul of the way services are commission in Sussex with greater acknowledgment that successful in-house provision is always the responsible way forward, putting people before profit.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: “I would like to think that such a sensible move by the commissioning group at this time was made from looking at the data, which spells out the successes of the NHS ambulance services developing and building positive outcomes in Sussex.

“But I think it’s more likely to be the case that this short-term award is just a delay for the circling vultures of the private sector looking for a pay day. And if our county’s commissioners do not change their approach, which consists of forcing through privatisation procurement programs and removing funding from NHS budgets, that’s exactly what we’ll get.

“In fact, I strongly believe that the public would see nothing wrong with awarding these NHS heroes the contract full time, given how they have risked their lives by working through the Covid pandemic. Sussex and its residents still remember with horror the CCG’s last foray into the private, low-cost, profiteering sector with Coperforma, and I am sure the patients and their families would want to follow the evidence to ensure the best possible service, in terms of patient experiences, journey numbers, stable resources and, not least, commitment.

“Securing the future of the service long-term is the right sort of thank you for every member of SCAS and the trust right now.

“GMB are therefore calling on the Combined CCGs to recognise a good thing whilst it’s in place to consider that while they’re in well-paid roles funded from the public sector, that perhaps our members might like to remain within the public sector too. We fully expect them to support the rights of Sussex NEPTS service, SCAS and its employees (ie GMB Members), and Sussex patients to the stability of service only provided by a long-term contract based directly within the NHS.”


Contact: Gary Palmer on 07752165950