Private patient transport provider Coperforma still owes £11m to the NHS and its other suppliers after its contract was withdrawn after a catalogue of problems.


It was one of the most controversial failures in recent times. Coperforma were awarded a contract in Sussex for non-emergency transport – a four-year deal worth £63.5 million with seven CCGs.

The contract was withdrawn after a matter of weeks due to shocking failures in the service.

According to a report in the Health Service Journal local NHS commissioners are still trying to recover £7.6m,

“The liquidators are also investigating “potential antecedent transactions” involving the firm, although they will not say who was involved in this. These transactions normally involve the transfer of money out of a firm before it becomes insolvent.”


Coperforma replaced the NHS’s South-East Coast ambulance service (SECamb) on 1 April 2016; it was then just a matter of days, before problems with the contract hit the headlines.

By mid-April local and national press were reporting on a service in chaos, with crews not turning up to pick up patients leading to missed appointments and patients languishing for hours in hospitals awaiting transport home.

Patients included those with kidney failure with appointments for dialysis and cancer patients attending chemotherapy sessions. The GMB union representing the ambulance crews said it was an “absolute shambles”.

Finally, in October 2016, Coperforma were forced to give up the contract.



1 Comment

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    Public procurers of contracts, if they really must succumb to “easy-life-syndrome”, instead of doing it economically in house, should learn from professionals at the contract supervision game and understand that supervision is essential to ensure performance in compliance with the contract.
    When a company’s motivation is split between delivering the contract and maximising profit, unless the contract is managed by a perfect altruist, you can bet every penny that compliance will slip, unless a big stick is being wielded!
    Professional contract supervisors know what signs to ask for, how tight the reporting should be, how close the accounting should be and who the established bad boys are!
    Keep it close, keep it in house, keep your own dedicated team who will look after your interests and forget making a fast buck!

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