Medical couriers ‘in physical danger’ due to poor working conditions

Medical couriers report that poor working conditions are leaving them in serious danger on the road and injured workers are returning to duties too quickly because they cannot afford the time off.

26 Oct 2018| News

Speaking to the Independent, Duncan – a motorbike courier for NHS contractor The Doctors’ Laboratory – said said he typically drives 10 hours a day to ensure biological materials such as blood for transfusion and patient samples get to where they need to be on time.

“I’ve crashed many times on a motorcycle and all of my crashes have been at work. All of them. I’ve never had a crash when I’m driving for pleasure,” he told the newspaper.

His colleague Alex Marshall reported that workers have been involved in four accidents in the last six weeks and that one of them was life-threatening.

“A guy came off his bike and basically went through the windscreen of a lorry,” he explained. “He was lucky to be alive.”

What’s more, some workers are unable to take time off after road accidents because of their poor pay. Despite the company admitting last year that it had misclassified its couriers as ‘self-employed’ and it owed them workers’ rights, many of its riders are now classified as ‘workers’ rather than ’employees’, meaning they still have no entitlement to sick pay.

“One guy just brushed himself down and went in the next day because he wasn’t in a financial position to be able to rest up and get over the trauma,” Marshall remembered. “Sometimes you just have to go in.”

Duncan told the Independent he had never had a pay rise, despite working for TDL since 2005, and since then he has experience two major pay cuts – one in 2015, when the employer cut the amount if paid for each job by up to 30%, and then again in 2017.

“They just see a load of numbers on a screen, but what we see every day is that the company is dealing with human life,” Marshall told the newspaper.