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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Chief executive of troubled Larkfield private ambulance provider NSL suddenly leaves

13 March 2014
by Nick Lillitos

The boss of Kent’s troubled private ambulance service, which has drawn hundreds of complaints for leaving patients stranded, has suddenly left.

Until this week, Alastair Cooper was managing director of NSL, which takes patients to and from non-emergency appointments.

Alastair Cooper,  who has stepped down as MD of troubled ambulance company NSL

Alastair Cooper, who has stepped down as MD of troubled ambulance company NSL

The service, based in Larkfield, was recently criticised by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission, for administrative failings that included not making security checks on staff and leaving patients stranded. In one case a man with terminal cancer was left waiting hours for an ambulance to take him for chemotherapy.

It was also revealed this week that the company is turning to taxis for its journeys. One firm providing cars is Express Taxis, based at Maidstone West station.


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NSL spokesman Dr Belinda Webb said this was standard procedure but taxis were only used when people didn’t require specialist transport.

Since NSL took over a £26 million contract in June – a bid which was led by Mr Cooper – there have been 235 complaints.

The company said it was looking for a person “with a different set of skills” to lead its overall health sector.

Mark Underwood who is temporarily heading up NSL Kent.

Mark Underwood who is temporarily heading up NSL Kent.

Temporarily taking over is NSL’s overall chief executive Mark Underwood.

Mr Underwood is based at the company’s London headquarters and described by colleagues as a “no-nonsense Yorkshire man”.

He plans to concentrate his time at the Larkfield base until a new managing director is appointed.

NSL Kent's Larkfield base

NSL Kent's Larkfield base

NSL also has airport and local government contracts.

A company statement confirmed Mr Cooper was leaving to “pursue other interests.”

Mr Underwood is completing a review into patient transport, and then recruitment will begin for a new head.

“I’m impatient in wanting to speed up the rate of progress so that more people benefit in the shortest possible time,” he said.

He added: “The promising thing is that in Kent we’ve got a very supportive partnership with the clinical commissioning group and we can only go forward.”

The KM contacted Mr Cooper but he declined to comment.

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