NHS contractor Coperforma has been in the eye of a storm ever since it started providing hospital transport for the NHS. The medical contractor has sub-contracted the project to other transport providers, including Docklands Medical Services.
Docklands shut down a few of its stations unannounced, claiming that its invoices had not been cleared by Coperforma, and, as a result, it could not pay its staff. However, after eight weeks of no pay, the staff providing hospital transport in Sussex have finally received payment.
The GMB union was negotiating on behalf of the drivers with Coperforma, who had agreed to clear the drivers’ payments. However, when this did not happen, the NHS decided to step in and pay the staff.
A spokesperson for Docklands claimed that the non-payment of salaries was due to cash flow issues.
Docklands HR Consultant Damien Hannan stated that the company regretted that the staff had to wait to get paid. He said that Docklands had taken over redundant staff from VM Langfords, the previous NHS contractor that was managing the non-emergency hospital transport. He blamed the substantial increase in the staff for Docklands’ cash flow issues.
Coperforma, on the other hand, refused to take responsibility for the non-payment of August salaries, stating that the Docklands staff were not their employees.
Nonetheless, GMB announced that the union had received payment for the staff from the High Weald, Lewes and Havens Clinical Commission Group, and subsequently the money was transferred to the drivers, who have now received their salaries for August.
Coperforma is one of many NHS contractors, but it has been criticised from the outset for the way that it has been handling the hospital transport service.
MPs such as Huw Merriman have openly stated that the contract should be taken back from Coperforma, and the hospital transport service should be brought back under the fold of the NHS.