The company running patient transport services in Sussex is ‘not on the brink of financial collapse’, it said in a statement today (Wednesday September 21).
Coperforma took over the contract back in April and admitted that its start was ‘disastrous’, with crews either turning up late or not showing up at all.
Although performance has improved since then two sub-contractors, VM Langfords and Docklands, have since collapsed, with the second leaving staff left with unpaid wages.
The GMB union has called for Coperforma to be stripped of the contract, but today the company has responded in a statement.
A spokesman for Coperforma said: “Since the very first announcement in January this year that Coperforma had been awarded the contract the decision of the commissioners has been criticised and we accept, with genuine regret, that the mobilisation and launch of the service three months later in April did not go according to plan; as a result, many patient journeys were severely disrupted.
“However, working closely with the commissioners, Coperforma responded quickly in identifying the problems and resolving them and the service is now operating well; according to the latest data it is delivering 93 per cent of the key performance indicators set by the commissioners which are higher than ever achieved for patients by the previous providers South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and compare better than any other ambulance trust.
“Patients across Sussex are receiving after a long time a safe, reliable and caring transport service and we find it inconceivable that there are those organisations and individuals who are demanding it is arbitrarily taken away from them.
“No justifiable reasons exist or have been put forward for such an objectionable action, so it can only be assumed it is being dictated by political influences or personal interests or a combination of both.”
Referring to Docklands Medical Services, one of the companies contracted by Coperforma to provide ambulances for the Sussex patient transport service, which has since ceased operating, the spokesman added: “We are aware of demonstrations being planned by the GMB regarding alleged unpaid wages of these employees and the closure of Docklands. Whilst we are extremely sympathetic towards those individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the Docklands closure, Coperforma were not their employer and have been wrongly included in unpaid salary claims to an employment tribunal by the GMB which will be robustly defended.
“We are seeking to assist in helping them by trying to engage with the GMB and proposing to put former Docklands employees in touch with other contractors who are looking for staff.
“Furthermore, suggestions have been made in the press that Coperforma is on the brink of financial collapse. This is nonsense. Coperforma is financially sound. There is however always a need for diligence on any potential overcharging where public money is concerned and these are resolved in the normal course of operations.
“Coperforma remains committed to continue to provide all patients and hospitals in Sussex with an unrivalled ambulance service and will firmly resist any attempt to prevent them receiving what they deserve.”
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