Suffolk ambulance staff denied Covid sick pay, says UNISON

Front line patient transport staff in Suffolk are only receiving statutory sick pay of £95 a week when they have to self-isolate.

Private ambulance firm Ezec is contracted by the NHS to transport patients around Suffolk, including those discharged from hospitals to care homes.

Workers say they are not given enough time between jobs to properly clean their vehicles, even when they have transported Covid patients.

Clinically vulnerable staff and those with caring responsibilities report being forced to take time off unpaid because Ezec refuses to furlough them.

Anyone providing NHS services is supposed to receive full pay for Covid-related absences, but Ezec says the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) responsible for the services should provide the cash.

Suffolk CCGs in turn claim it’s not a matter for “local determination” and are refusing to pay Ezec to cover the costs.

The impasse costs staff hundreds of pounds for every week they are off, says UNISON. The union is calling for Ezec and the CCGs to settle their differences and pay workers the money they have missed out on since last March.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “There may finally be light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic, but if we’re going to beat Covid, we still need proper infection control methods in place.

“That means making sure staff aren’t left out of pocket when they’re self-isolating to stop the spread of infection.

“Ezec staff are being caught between their employer and the service commissioners trying to shift the blame onto the other.

“It’s not just the workers that suffer – their families, their patients and the wider public are all hurt by these bureaucratic squabbling. Ezec and the service commissioners need to sort this out.”