Ambulance staff have sent an open letter to health chiefs pleading for their jobs.
Members of the GMB working for the Patient Transport Service sent the letter to the clinical commissioning groups in Sussex.
Members have been expressing their disappointment at Thames Ambulance’s decision to cut jobs and the CCGs’ lack of public support and willingness to intervene with Thames on their behalf, GMB Southern said.
So today the union said that it was publishing the letter directed to the combined NHS Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance CCG from GMB members and Thames Ambulance staff.
The letter calls on the combined CCGs to accept their fair share of responsibility for the financial difficulties, the subsequent announcement that sees Thames Ambulance Service wish to exit the Sussex patient transport service and the decision to make 25 per cent of their workforce redundant, as a prelude either to further rounds of job losses or the logistical transfer of service provision and staff back into the NHS with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).
The combined CCGs’ governing body, which is made up of local GPs and other experienced health professionals, is led by Brighton and Hove CCG clinical chair Dr David Supple and accountable officer and chief executive Adam Doyle.
Both have been sent the letter to plead that intervention should be “immediately forthcoming” and that not only are the current jobs losses at Thames halted, but that the CCGs then actively support the reintegration of staff and the service they provide back into NHS hands with SCAS on the departure of Thames Ambulance Service Ltd.
GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “GMB members have been expressing their disappointment at both Thames’s decision to cut jobs and the CCGs’ lack of public support and willingness to intervene with Thames on their behalf.
“In terms of profit and loss, staff are, of course, acutely aware that the losses Thames are experiencing are un-sustainable.
“However, they are also angry that they, as trained ambulance PTS professionals, are going to lose their jobs and see the work and patients transferred to other private providers, when transferring them all back into the NHS with SCAS could see patient delivery continuity continue as well as their employment.
“It’s hard when asked to explain just what they have done to deserve such treatment, apart from being in the profession at the wrong time.
“Two years ago they found themselves transferred out of the NHS from South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) and into the private sector at the behest of the Sussex CCGs’ experiment to save money by using Coperforma and its all singing and dancing journey planning app.
“A foray and move that we now know cost considerably more than they expected after a chain of company closures and non-movement of patients around Sussex on an epic scale, before the sensible solution of moving it once again back into the NHS but this time with SCAS occurred.
“GMB are to meet soon with the CCGs to remind them that the GMB and Thames staff hold them responsible for the predicament they find themselves in and that they need to do the right thing now to correct it.”