Union calls for inquiry after bailiffs seize ambulances as contractor goes bust
The GMB union has called on MPs to hold an official inquiry into health commissioners after bailiffs seized five ambulances as a private contractor went bust.
The union wants the House of Commons Health Committee to investigate the problems besetting the patient transport service (PTS) in an area that includes Brighton and Hove.
It called for an inquiry today (Friday 17 June) after bailiffs seized five ambulances this week when VM Langfords went into administration.
The union said: “We will be seeking assurances from all concerned that both the affected staff and the long-suffering patients in Sussex will be looked after should a new provider not be found before creditors call time on VM Langfords says GMB.
“Creditors sent bailiffs to sites in Worthing, Bognor Regis and Alton on Wednesday (15 June), recovering five vehicles as payment for PTS provider VM Langfords’ debts.
“VM Langfords appointed insolvency administrator Peter Hall yesterday to protect them from having further assets reclaimed and to allow service provision to continue in West Sussex in the immediate future.
“This is the latest in a long line of failures following private provider Coperforma taking over responsibility for Sussex patient transport services from SECAmb (South East Coast Ambulance Service) on (Friday) 1 April.
“Sussex CCGs have received severe criticism from MPs and local residents as hundreds of patients suffering from severe illnesses miss vital NHS appointments with some patients reporting waits of more than five hours.”
GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “Once again Sussex CCGs are putting patients’ lives in danger as the fall-out from their disastrous break up of county’s PTS service and the vastly undervalued tendering process takes yet another ludicrous turn.
“Only three months into an already fiasco-ridden contract and it seems VM Langfords will now go bust.
“The NHS services provided to meet the needs of patients and other local people are about as far off the mark in Sussex as they could be.
“Handing over valued NHS services to the likes of Coperforma and Langfords without checking providers’ ability to deliver those valued services professionally and efficiently is a travesty.
“These providers care only about getting value for money from a diminishing NHS budget regardless of outcomes for patients.
“GMB will continue to work hard to find a professional provider who will commit to working with us, as the union for health workers, to take up and deliver the kind of service patients and staff alike deserve.
“We will be seeking assurances from all concerned that both the affected staff who find their jobs potentially under threat only 10 weeks into a new contract and the long-suffering patients in Sussex will be looked after should a new provider not be found before creditors call time on Langfords.
“GMB are calling on the Health Select Committee to urgently investigate this utterly avoidable crisis and examine why CCGs ignored all warnings from GMB and other professional bodies about the recklessness of outsourcing this service.
“Heads should roll for this dangerous and deeply troubling scandal.”
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I worked for secamb for20 years and am ashamed of the ccgs and their decision. I am a mere ambulance care assistant but wrote to all and everybody well before all this happened warning of dangers and its all come true!!! Heads should roll particularly ccg bosses. You have no idea what the service is or should be. I feel 20 years counts for nothing.. Shame on you all for this debacle.
Bailiffs (Enforcement Agents) are not entitled to seize ambulances as they are clearly defined as exempt goods in the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013:-
The regulations specify vehicles which are exempt as:
Vehicles with a valid disabled person’s badge
Vehicles used for police, fire or ambulance purposes
A vehicle with a valid British Medical Association badge or other health emergency badge because it is being used for health emergency purposes
These are not for emergencies, they are for non-emergency patient transport, e.g. travelling to hospital appointments, discharges home etc. Nonetheless appalling for all that. If you don’t want to see more of this, vote Remain tomorrow.
CCG’s are more interested in keep costs down than ‘care’, it only takes one bull headed big mouthed Dr. to be elected to the ‘chair’ and it goes down hill from there. The politicians aren’t blame free either, both the Tories and Labour have done damage to the NHS, have a look ~50 miles to the West at the mess here in Portsmouth.
Did the local ambulance service even tender for this contract?
The best people to handle PTS are Local trained for PTS working with local taxi firms as they know there area or the local NHS in house. But they most of the time go to tender and go for the cheap offer.