Overview of the patient transport M&A landscape
The medical transport sector remains one of the most low-key areas of the UK healthcare market despite its size and pivotal role in day-to-day operations of the system.
A staggering £460m is spent by the NHS each year on non-emergency patient transport services (“NEPTS”), with the independent sector playing a significant role in this area. Furthermore, the NHS spends an additional £61m per year on private ambulances to attend emergency situations.
With NHS patient transport services coming under pressure, there has been a significant increase in independent ambulance providers in recent years.
The complexity of the sector means it is not a natural market for M&A, however there have been a handful of notable deals.
Cairngorm Capital’s acquisition in 2021 of E-Zec Medical, the UK’s largest independent provider of NEPTS, is the highest profile private equity involvement in the sector. E-Zec’s subsequent merger with ERS medical in early 2023 has further strengthened the group’s market presence, also extending services into areas such as medical couriers.
Other sizeable transactions have included Ambulnz (the UK arm of DocGo) acquiring Falck’s UK NEPTS business and Literacy Capital-backed RCI’s acquisition of Prometheus.
As the sector continues to evolve, the independent sector plays an increasingly important role. We expect to see further consolidation of smaller players in order to generate scale, recognise synergies and diversify services.