Medical contractor Coperforma was awarded the contract for patient transport service in Sussex in April. The initial start of the contract was disastrous, but the firm improved its services and recently stated that it was on the road to recovery.
However, the staff working for Docklands, which sub-contracts for Coperforma, were in for a shock when they turned up for work to find their offices closed. A hand-written note at one of the offices directed the workers to get in touch with Coperforma CEO Michael Clayton, since the sub-contractor was having issues with firm. Docklands has closed its bases in Bognor, Worthing and St. Leonards.
MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas stated that the privatisation of the patient transport service has disappointed both drivers and patients. She went on to add that the local Clinical Commissioning Group had assured her that there were sufficient resources, and patients would not be adversely affected. However, she asked people to get in touch with her should they face difficulties.
Lucas pointed out that the privatisation had not only affected patients but also drivers working for Docklands. She stated that the drivers were paid late, and now, with the closing of the Docklands bases, the drivers did know the status of their jobs. She found the entire situation unfair as many NHS drivers were forced to work for private NHS contractors such as Docklands, and steps should be taken to support them.
Some Docklands employees have stated that they have not received wages for weeks. These workers received supermarket vouchers from the GMB union so that they could purchase food for their families.
A Coperforma spokesperson stated that the firm has found out that Docklands has stopped its operations, and has asked the sub-contractor to provide information. Once the company gets the details, it will issue further information. The spokesperson stressed that sub-contractor invoice payments were up to date, and Coperforma was financially stable, so there was no cause for concern.