A CHRONICALLY ill man from Stroud has hit out at a private company contracted to transport NHS patients to hospital after having to regularly wait for more than four hours.

Andrew Morris of Uplands requires regular appointments at consultant clinics in both Cheltenham and Gloucester to monitor and medicate his potentially life-threatening illnesses.

A wheelchair user who suffers from COPD, asthma, sleep apnea, gout and kidney disease, Mr Morris takes 16 different medicines to manage his conditions daily and the clinic appointments ensure that his dosages are safe and correct.

However, as an amputee he relies on Arriva Transport Services, which is contracted by Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, to provide non-urgent hospital transport for patients.

Mr Morris told the SNJ that on many occasions his hospital transport has arrived so late to pick him up that he has missed his clinic appointment and has had to be referred back to his GP.

“It’s so frustrating,” he said. “I rely on so many medications just to keep me alive and I need to have these checked by consultants often.

“The clinics are very busy, so when I miss an appointment I am referred back to my GP, who then has to add me back to the waiting list.”

On other occasions, transport back to Stroud from the hospital has been delayed by up to five hours, he said, leaving him waiting without food or water in a hospital corridor.

When Mr Morris attempted to complain to Arriva, he was held in a phone queue and cut off before he could speak to anyone.

The call cost him £12, he said. Arriva started operating the contract for the transport of NHS patients in Gloucestershire in 2013.

Mark Feather, national head of operations for the company, responded to the complaints and apologised.

“The service Mr Morris has received falls below the standard we aim to provide,” he said.

“We have contacted Mr Morris to both apologise for his experience and resolve the issues he has raised.

“The patient transport service has seen increasing demands being placed upon it, however Mr Morris should expect to receive a better level of service.

“In the past 12 months we have seen the number of patients requiring the use of a stretcher and the assistance of a four-person crew more than double.

"This significantly increases pressure on resources and we are working with our healthcare partners to address these challenges and ensure that the service remains resilient and responsive.”