GMB call for Sussex combined CCG intervention after Thames Ambulance Service announce redundancies

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GMB are calling for early intervention by Sussex combined CCGs as the patient transport provider Thames Ambulance Service announces redundancies. “Once again the problem is that hard working staff and GMB members are going to bear the brunt of another private contractor failure in Sussex”, says GMB Southern

GMB, the union for the ambulance service, are calling for early intervention by Sussex combined CCG’s after patient transport provider Thames Ambulance Service Ltd (TASL) announced ten proposed redundancies within the Sussex Patient Transport services.

GMB are concerned that today’s announcement by TASL within the Sussex PTS is just a prelude and warning of things to come regarding the private provider’s ability and desire to continue working for South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and the combined Sussex CCG’s.

The union have already met with TASL to seek assurances that they will go back to SCAS to look to resume discussions and champion the case for the safe transfer of all 42 staff back into the NHS.

Over the coming months GMB will continue to make representations to all involved in the provision of Sussex PTS services for demand to be increased to match TASL’s current available capacity to avoid redundancies.

GMB will also be contacting the CCG’s and local MP’s looking for support in assisting with the transfer process as a matter of priority.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: "I had hoped that the Coperforma fiasco lessons around private PTS provision in the county had been learnt. Especially when those involved and responsible, like Wendy Carberry who was the accountable officer at that time, continue to play an even more senior role in the newly formed, The Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance Executive Team.

“However, clearly the support required in ensuring that Sussex PTS moved fully back into the NHS and that SCAS and its contractors were supported during that process in clearing up the Commissioners mess in the first place hasn’t happened.

“NHS Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance must take a lead along with the GMB Union in supporting SCAS to fully take back into the NHS all Sussex Patient Transport Services currently provided by private sector company TASL.

“Once again the problem is that hard working staff and GMB members are going to bear the brunt of another private contractor failure in Sussex. TASL appear to have been open and honest with us as the recognised union representing PTS staff within the company with regard to the actual company issues and decision making and the consequential financial ramifications, but these redundancies could and can still be avoided, if all stakeholders are open to trying to seek to advance transfer talks.

“We want to be able to ensure that patients need not fear a return to the Coperforma days of old, when expectations of being provided with patient transport far outweighed the actual reality of service delivery.

“TASL says it wishes to make redundancies rather than exit the contract in Sussex because of continued financial losses from reduced demand by SCAS. This supports GMB’s condemnation of the private sector involvement, on the whole, as the transport and treatment of patients when profit is either above or equal to patient need is wrong. This will lead to the end of the NHS as we know it if the Government continues its deliberate relaxation of procurement regulations in support of its aim of a wholly privatised broken up National Health Service at which Tory supporting companies can share out services to drain public coffers. 

“Unfortunately, if unable to or whilst we seek to persuade TASL to step back from the redundancy process, we will be looking to them to mitigate reducing possible redundancy numbers even further and in applying and ensuring fair selection processes including seeking possible voluntary redundancies in the first instance.

“It’s going to be a real shame that such professional and experienced PTS specialists are going to be lost to the service, patients and county and devastating to those staff and their families who might find themselves compulsorily made redundant with Christmas around the corner. GMB will be there to support all who need us and we will continue to make robust representation to all involved in regard to doing the right thing.”

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove said: "I'm urging the CCG to resolve this urgently and to bring the service back into the reliable and trustworthy control of the NHS.

“Patients and staff have suffered too much for too long and it's time to put this issue to bed once and for all."

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown said: “These redundancies are a clear acknowledgement that the Thames Ambulance Service Ltd contract is no longer viable and we are just prolonging what is an inevitable collapse.

“These workers shouldn’t be treated as just a line item on a spreadsheet, they deserve respect. The CCG needs to end the uncertainty for the 42 workers and their families and bring the contract back into the NHS.

 “The public are sick of this patchwork of private companies looking to make a quick buck out of our public services. It’s only a matter of time before every Patient Transport Provider is operated by the NHS, be that because of their own financial collapse or because of a change of government.”

Peter Lamb, Labour Candidate for Crawley and Leader of Crawley BC said: "Patients and those working for our National Health Service deserve better treatment than this. It's time the decision makers drew a line under this whole sorry business and brought patient transport back into public hands."

Daniel Yates, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “We know our NHS is being starved of cash by Theresa May’s continuing Tory austerity.

“This redundancy threat to valued ambulance staff is just another example of failed privatisation and wasted public money.

“It crucial for the stability and delivery of Patient Transport Services that sufficient money and staff are available to make sure that our hardworking NHS staff can deliver the public services that we all pay for in our taxes.

“Bringing these valuable ambulance staff back into the NHS makes financial sense and ensures that patient services are better protected than in the hand of private profiteers.”

Contact: Gary Palmer GMB Organiser 07552 165 950 or Mark Turner GMB Branch Secretary 07860 787 973 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 762