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All long-running sagas come to an end eventually – and there are quite a few NHS managers who will be pleased to see an end to the one involving patient transport services provider Coperforma.

To recap, Coperforma was the only bidder for a contract to run PTS services in Sussex, ran them badly for seven months in 2016 and then withdrew from the contract, later going into liquidation. The Sussex clinical commissioning groups were left to pick up the pieces, sorting out a new service and, at points, even having to pay workers from some of Coperforma’s sub-contractors.

The CCGs sought to get back the money this had cost them but with Coperforma owing many millions and having few assets this might have seemed an uphill task.

Fortunately, the CCGs had a “parent company guarantee” which meant they could pursue a different company for the money. And, six years later, they have done so successfully, securing a “significant” payout from a Hong Kong-registered company.

It’s not quite a fairytale ending for this particular soap opera but it’s probably the best outcome the CCGs could have hoped for, even if it does not appear they got the full £7.6m they sought.

Place, the final frontier

There have been tensions in larger health systems around the extent to which local councils will lead, or be involved in leading, health services within their local ‘places’.

This was reflected in an internal document from Greater Manchester, which insisted local authorities will remain the ‘leaders of place’ once the integrated care system is established from July.

This should be straightforward and clear in some of the boroughs, where the council chief executive will jointly assume the ‘place-based lead’ role for the integrated care board.

This is the model that has already been adopted for several years in boroughs like Oldham and Bury, where the clinical commissioning groups have been run on a joint basis by the local authority chief.

But the picture could be blurrier in other boroughs, with the document giving an option for the place lead to be a full-time official employed by the ICB, with dual accountability to the ICB and council chief executive.

A third option would be for alternative proposals to be agreed by local partners, which could leave the door open for a chief executive or director of an NHS trust to be the place-based lead.

Asked how councils would remain the leaders of place, if the place-based lead was an NHS employee, a spokeswoman for the system said the roles are “distinct and separate to the general and wider role of the councils in relation to place leadership and place shaping”.

Also on today

In London Eye, Ben Clover delves into speculation that a major chief executive post in London could go to a medic, and in the comment section Gemma Peters says NHSE must learn from last autumn’s mistakes if it is to avoid similar racial disparities in access to future vaccine doses.