A call with coperforma

coperforma twitter


I had the opportunity to speak with David Davis, a Director from Coperforma who looks after communications for the company. This has all kicked off following a tweet I sent this week, after my mum was let down again by the patient transport supplied by this company.

Why I am complaining

To give a short background on this situation, my mum is currently having chemotherapy and radiotherapy in Brighton, 5 times a week. She is based in Hastings and relies on the patient transport to take her to and from her appointments. She is currently on week 3 of her treatment.

Every week it is the same – I get an update on how they haven’t showed up and she is left waiting for hours for a vehicle.

This week started off badly with the pick-ups from home being late and mum having to let the hospital know that she will miss her appointment. On a day where she has chemo followed by radio, it is long enough without this additional hassle. For those with a lack of geographic knowledge of the South East coast, the commute is around 1 – 1.5 hours each way, dependant on traffic.

On Tuesday, she was out at 13:00. The request was put in, no driver was allotted by Coperforma and she was left waiting 4.5 hours. In the end they ordered her a taxi.

Hastings to Brighton travel

I put in a complaint via email, listing all the problems we’ve had to-date but I also decided to tweet it and post on their Facebook Page. It turns out, public shaming gets attention fairly quickly. I received an email from David that evening, asking to speak in the morning in more detail.

What happened when we spoke

This isn’t a transcript, I didn’t record it but I noted down the odd line he said. I’m impressed with the speed of response and appreciate the personal apology but i’m not convinced by everything he said. However the case is being investigated, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve bulleted the points that came out of the call.

  • He felt my tweet was out of character of other, recent tweets. Most are positive so mine stood out.
  • He admitted that when coperforma took over in April 2016 they screwed up and let people down, they rectified this as quickly as possible.
  • He stated that the service is “back on keel, operating well across the whole of the country”
  • The level of complaints has dropped dramatically, leading him to believe things are better (and support the above claim).
  • Coperforma do not own any vehicle nor hire any drivers, this is all sub-contacted.
  • Coperforma employ call centre staff and managers only (based in an office in Thruxton). Everything is managed using software, providing an ‘uber concept’ for non-emergency vehicles.
  • He was surprised I knew who they were, he wouldn’t have expected the drivers to give the name Coperforma.
  • There is a member of Coperforma staff at every hospital, to be there for patients.
  • He stressed this was an NHS service and asked me if I understood the process of the contract (I let him know that I understood what tendering was).
  • He admitted that there is a “technical issue” with their system but that he didn’t understand it, but it was being looked into.
  • He mention there is a feedback group operating for patients to use.
  • He told me to keep in touch if there are any further problems in the interim.

David is a journalist by trade and has been in the NHS transport service circuit for 8 years, so he knows how to deal with people. The call wasn’t angry, there were no raised voices and I allowed him to get his side of the story across (before having all the information about my individual case).

What concerns me is that figures can be manipulated and the service might be an improvement on its situation in April, but there is no way it could be considered fixed.

It isn’t just my mum that has had these issues, she has made friends with other patients having the same problems. Have they made a formal complaint? Probably not. A large percentage of the patients my mum sees at the hospital are elderly. Not to generalise too much, but I am doubtful they are going to be tweeting about their experience or when they get home, exhausted after treatment, they probably don’t want to ‘make a fuss’ and complain.

It’s easy to hide behind processes and technology but I feel there is a real problem with how this is operating. The fundamental issue is, this isn’t retail – you can’t just take your money elsewhere or demand a refund. This is an essential support service for people receiving treatment.

Senior managers are fed information from team leaders and associate directors – are they giving the real picture to the board directors at Coperforma? Are they reporting that their third-parties are failing? I’d like to hope that they are but in a company that is likely to be KPI driven, I doubt anyone wants to look like they’re failing at their job.

These are real people, who have real lives and are facing emotional and physical challenges. This has to get better.


Have you had an experience with coperforma? Good or bad? Let me know in the comment section below.


  1. Karen Diton
    13th October 2016 / 19:08

    I now work for one of the sub contacted private ambulance firms.I had worked for Secamb for 27 yrs but we had no choice and had to transfer to the new firm. Having to work for coperforma is a disaster. I coud tell you things that happen every single day. We are all caring professional people and we hate how badly our patients are being let down . The ambulance firm I work for are fine-we have decent ambulances etc. We are allocated our work by coperforma. Usually one job at a time and often so late that it is impossible to get the pt in on time. It can take 30,40 mins or even longer to get through to the control-so much wasted time.
    The CCG need to take the contract away from coperfoma. Coperforma do not accept there is a problem BUT THERE IS.

    • 13th October 2016 / 19:16

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. My mum has always mentioned how the drivers are wonderful, caring people towards her but the system isn’t working. I don’t really understand how the process works on coperforma’s side when they get a request – but it clearly needs to change or adapt because it isn’t working.

  2. Teresa Blackburn
    13th October 2016 / 19:15

    Hi Emily,
    I am a dialysis patient who attends Brighton renal unit 3 times a week and although I do not use hospital transport (getting there and back under my own steam) my dialysis has nevertheless been affected by Coperforma’s tardiness. My husband is also a patient here and we have been doing battle with Coperforma via Twitter and other avenues (MPs, press, healthwatch, hospital complaint system, the CCG – Clinical Commissioning Group since they took over the contract in April. I will follow you on Twitter and add you to a list I started so you can see all the tweets that I and various other people on Twitter have made. It’s a great tool to get your voice out there, but still nothing is really progressing. I am sorry for your Mum and the anxiety you must both feel. I see it week in week out with the other patients here and we seem to constantly be fobbed off by people we complain to. It’s like they have a shield around them and nothing gets through.
    Of course not, only does it effect the patients, but friends, family and staff. Our next step is to take our complaint to the health ombudsman.
    Just like you say, elderly patients are less inclined to complain. The Healthwatch team from Brighton and Hove came here at my request and I now hear that 60% of patients they spoke to say they were satisfied with the PTS delivered by Coperforma. This is no way true, if anything it reflects that 60% of elderly patients are too anxious or scared to speak out.
    We will carry on fighting along with some really good people on Twitter like @Davemannradio, @DebbieQuick, @MattAtkins73 and many more that you will see when I add you to the list. I hope you will join us in our fight against this truly horrendous, uncaring and rude company.

    • 13th October 2016 / 19:33

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear that you have been personally affected as well. I would like to, in some way, pass this information back to the director I have contact with at Coperforma. He has given me his details so that I can pass on information and I feel it is only fair to pass on others concerns as well as my own. I encourage others to comment here, so I have an idea of the issues in one place, and I will pass on and support where I can.

  3. Steve
    13th October 2016 / 20:22

    Hi my name is Steve I used to work for Secamb and it’s obvious Coperforma are doing things underhand but it’s another issue proving it. We all just want to get back to doing our jobs and care for the people of Sussex. Unfortunately it’s the CCGs who can bring about this change and put patient transport back where it belongs under the NHS. I’m so sorry to read your Mums misfortunes under this inadequate company.

    • 14th October 2016 / 13:53

      Thank you for your message – lets hope we’re all being heard.

  4. Jacquie
    14th October 2016 / 07:53

    Hi I am also a patient on dialysis at Brighton . My slot is 3 0clock I live half an hour away from the hospital I get picked up at 1 o’clock on a Tuesday and Thursday arrive at the hospital at 1.30 so both those days I have to hang arround for an hour and a half which is so frustrating this is before I do 4 hours on the machine. Also I’m only one way in my partner picks me up after my treatment mainly so I don’t have to sit for hours waiting to get home, they have sent transport to take me home the hospital have cancelled it so many times but for some reason they still insist sending drivers out for me which is a waste of resources.
    Saturday’s are the worst for patients arriving very late for their treatment which has a knock on effect throughout the day making everybody late they insist on picking up one patient at a time another patient told me she lives one door away from another patient they send two lots of transport to pick them up individually, just doesunt make sense when they are on the same time slot. Another waste of resources..
    Back in May on a Saturday three lots of transport turned up for me I obviously went with the 1st car I’m at the hospital then two more cars arrive at my cottage my son was there he told them I had been picked up, both these drivers wouldn’t leave kept knocking on my door asking my son where was I calling out my name the drivers started having a go at my son . My neighbour came out told them I wasunt there I was at the hospital they still wouldunt leave my neighbour phoned my partner who drove home from work made them go as they walked down our path they then started arguing with each other these drivers were from road runners.
    I’m sorry for your mums misfortune this company is definately out of their depth with this contract why they still have it us beyond me.

    • 14th October 2016 / 13:55

      I’ve been told similar things by my mum – multiple cars sent for people that are very close to one another. Doesn’t seem like a very sensible approach to logistics! I hope you put in a complaint to road runners, that terrible behaviour. I hope your future experience is better. Take care of yourself.

  5. Amanda
    14th October 2016 / 18:16

    Because Coperforma have brought in the most inadequate mobile app going in the form of a taxi app, only one job at a time is given to ambulance crews or other people providing transport to patients. They are not allowed to carry more than one patient in an ambulance for instance. Crews are sent empty from furthest East to furthest West Sussex when there are ambulances already waiting for work at the pick up point. Crazy. SECAMB filled their ambulances as did the volunteer car drivers. Planned work was readied the day before patients pick up and drop offs and sent to crews when they arrived for work. They knew their routes, patients and times patients had to be somewhere. Crews were highly trained over 3 weeks and ongoing not the 2 days some cowboy private companies do. Some of the private companies staff are a disgrace. Slobby, badly dressed, mucking about, scoffing sandwiches, smoking, not a clue how to move patients in wheelchairs, almost tipping them out forwards onto the road. Just watch them, it’s shocking. Streamline cars drivers think the A22 is a race track, weaving in and out over the speed limit, yes you are being watched! A number of times myself and others have witnessed this. Tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile Noperforma ruin peoples lives, patients and ex loyal SECAMB staff. The MUST go. Please don’t report to them to cover their lies. Report to the CAR and your MP. Sorry to anyone whose life is being played with because of missed appointments

    • Amanda
      14th October 2016 / 18:19

      Report to HIGH WEALD CCG not car!

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