Ambulances used by Coperforma for non-emergency patient transfer in Sussex.
THE NHS has been left close to a million pounds out of pocket by last year’s Coperforma patient transport disaster, The Argus can reveal.
More than £180,000 pension payments have been made to staff whose pensions were not paid while they were temporarily in the employ of a private contractor.
The six-figure sum, to former NHS ambulance drivers employed by subcontractors for Coperforma during 2016, is in addition to the £650,000 “ex gratia” payment the NHS made to cover salaries which went unpaid by the firms.
The pensions sum includes money allegedly garnered from employee wages which never made it into their pension pots.
Neither sum is expected to be recouped.
GMB union boss Gary Palmer said: “It looks like after a strong ongoing representation by GMB members not to lose their rightful pension payments owed to them by Coperforma and its cowboy contractors, that after a huge amount of hard work sorting through the resulting mess by the NHS South Central Ambulance Service, those who transferred back into the NHS are close to seeing the long-running issue of the missing pension payments resolved.”
Earlier this month it was announced that Coperforma is due to be wound up. The firm provided non-emergency patient transport in Sussex between April and November 2016.
It had been awarded a four-year, £63 million contract but lost it after seven months.
The return of the patient transport service to NHS hands followed damning reports of Coperforma’s disastrous service: leaving thousands of patients waiting four hours or more, staff and subcontractors going unpaid, and misleading statements being made in Parliament.
The Coperforma contract was awarded on behalf of Sussex’s seven Clinical Commissioning Groups, with the project headed by High Weald Lewes Havens CCG.
A spokesman said: “The Sussex CCG’s supported proposals to ensure pension issues affecting former employees of Docklands were resolved on safe transfer to South Central Ambulance Service. The total pension contributions for the 53 affected staff was £185,727.
“This equates to £53,622 of outstanding employee contributions in addition to £132,105 of outstanding employer contributions.
“This was paid in full to the NHS pension Scheme by South Central Ambulance Service – this was some time in the summer of 2017.”
He said lawyers had warned responsibility for employer contributions could be argued to have transferred back to the NHS with the drivers’ return so to avoid legal wrangling and delays the CCG stepped in.
Source: The Argus