Union holds 24-hour protest in Lewes over patient transport

GMB demo, Lewes SUS-160526-090757008
GMB demo, Lewes SUS-160526-090757008

A senior NHS worker has been criticised by union members ahead of a demonstration over a company which runs patient transport in Sussex.

At a 24-hour protest, held outside of the offices of High Weald and Lewes Havens CCG in Lewes on Wednesday (May 25), members of the union GMB called for the immediate end of Coperforma’s contract to run non-emergency hospital transport in the county.

Ahead of the demonstration the union, which says its members have been pressured into taking extra shifts since Coperforma took over the service, also called for the CCG to consider if accountable officer Wendy Carberry “is the correct person for the job”.

GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “The CCGs, led by the accountable officer Wendy Carberry, have refused to meet with concerned groups, including GMB. Instead, they have blocked or avoided taking responsibility for the fiasco even seeming to provide an element protection to the incompetent management team at Coperforma. They seem to still hope that Coperforma may eventually get it right, despite the risk to Sussex patients, and in the meantime they are maintaining a fingers crossed approach to managing the situation while trying to ensure the public reputation of both the CCG and Coperforma aren’t damaged beyond repair.”

“We therefore call for the removal of Coperforma from the Sussex PTS contract and that High Weald Lewes Havens CCG board examine whether CCG lead and accountable officer Wendy Carberry is the correct person for the job as both are incapable of carrying out the contractual obligations expected of them.”

In a joint statement issued by all seven Sussex CCGs ahead of the Lewes protest, a NHS spokesman said: “Whilst we respect a trade union’s right to protest we regret the personalisation of the issue which it has pursued. It is important to stress that this contract was procured, and is being managed, by all seven CCGs across Sussex.

“We continue to work closely with Coperforma and individual hospital trusts to address the issues and enact remedial plans.”

In April thousands of people signed a petition calling on the NHS to cancel the Coperforma’s contract after widespread delays saw dozens of patients miss appointments – some for pain-relieving treatment.

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