COUNCILLORS unleashed a withering attack on a private health contractor, saying they were “patently failing” patients.

Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd, which moves patients around the county, was told it was “putting profit before service” and needed to make serious changes.

The private company has contracts with the NHS in Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire but has failed to perform over the past three years.

In a report presented Gloucestershire County Council Health and Care committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors were told that Arriva had received an official warning in late 2015 for “consistent failure to achieve a number of required Key Performance Indicator standards”.

But by May this year, Arriva were still failing to perform.

The report found the company was missing key targets in getting patients to appointments and picking them up afterwards.

Cllr Roger Wilson said: “I’m going to be blunt about this. Arriva have patently failed in a number of areas and it simply isn’t good enough.

"This report is full of excuses, we don’t want any more excuses, we want action.

“I can only put it down to the fact that they are skimping on resources.

“This is a private sector initiative where profit is being put before service.”

Glen Curry, of Arriva, admitted the report was not positive but said: “Over 90 per cent of people thought the care and professionalism of the crews was good.”

After the meeting, Paul Willetts, head of patient transport services south at Arriva, said they were "committed" to bringing about improvements.

“We have seen an increase in the number of patients across Gloucestershire with more complex transport needs which has placed increased pressure on our services. This has affected our ability to improve performance quickly," he said.

“We have already brought in a number of measures as part of our improvement action plan, such as working with dialysis units to ensure our service can adjust to changes in patient demand.

"We also continue to invest heavily in this contract and have introduced new technology in our control rooms.

"We recognise that there is more work to do by both ourselves and our healthcare partners to bring about service improvements for our patients in Gloucestershire.”