29 September 2010 | Angeline Albert
A dispute between the GMB union, a health trust and the preferred bidder of a patient transport deal has led to a delay in the contract’s award.
Members of the GMB union have staged a protest over South London Healthcare NHS Trust's handling of the outsourcing of a patient transport contract.
The deal was originally expected to begin on 1 September.
Following a board meeting at the health trust on 29 September, the decision on whether or not to award the deal to preferred bidder Savoy Ventures has been pushed back until the end of the week.
A spokeswoman for South London Healthcare said: “This issue was discussed in the private section of our board meeting earlier today. At this stage, no contracts have been awarded nor signed and we will make an announcement at the end of the week.”
GMB members employed by London Ambulance Service to carry out patient transport demonstrated outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south London, where the board meeting took place. The contract covers staff working in Greenwich, Barnhurst and Bromley ambulance stations.
The GMB believes the health trust committed breaches in the procurement process in appointing its preferred bidder, Savoy Ventures. It argues due diligence was not carried out and that rules relating to consultation and staff terms and conditions have been ignored. Savoy Ventures disputes this and all other claims.
A spokesman for Savoy Ventures said: “It is incredibly exasperating that the GMB has chosen to ignore or distort many facts, causing unwarranted concern to staff and patients alike.”
If there is no satisfactory outcome from talks, the GMB says, strikes will go ahead.