A PRIVATE ambulance company which failed thousands of vulnerable elderly patients is to be dissolved.

Coperforma Ltd, which left dialysis and chemotherapy patients waiting four hours or more for a lift home from hospital, and used sub-contractors which were not properly licensed, is now the subject of a compulsory strike-off notice reported at Companies House.

The firm lost a four-year, £65 million contract after seven months last year after a string of Argus revelations about poor service, disastrous industrial relations and the NHS having to step in to pay drivers.

Last night union officials were delighted but said questions remained unanswered.


Gary Palmer, regional organiser for the GMB union which represented most of the drivers transferred from the NHS to Coperforma last April, said: “Members will I’m sure not feel one drop of sympathy or shed one tear for Coperforma’s owners, who unfortunately may never be brought to account for their part in the Sussex patient transport service disaster.

“The news that Coperforma is no more must be deeply satisfying for those patients and GMB crews whose lives were made so miserable.

“The GMB is still calling for full disclosure by the combined Sussex CCGs as to the total cost of this ‘money saving’ privatisation, and the county’s patient transport service users certainly deserve to know who was to blame.”

Legal steps have been started to dissolve the company and strike it off the Companies House register with any assets going to the Crown.

Last week its email system was not working and telephone callers to a business centre where it had offices were told it was no longer trading.

Last year the company was the subject of multiple damning reports after thousands of patient journeys were missed in the first two weeks of operation alone.

By the autumn the NHS had to step in to keep services operating when one of its subcontractors ceased trading.

Last November The Argus revealed Coperforma would transition away from service provision, with the final handover back into NHS hands taking place this April.

Coperforma, which was based in Hampshire, won a contract from all seven Sussex clinical commissioning groups to provide non-emergency patient transport from April 2016.

Previously the service was provided by the South East Coast Ambulance service (Secamb).

Coperforma’s business model relied on an “Uber” style smartphone app to alert drivers of patient journeys.

It subcontracted work to private ambulance firms rather than using its own fleet.