A COMMUNITY leader has slammed patient transport cover – after claiming she waited SIX HOURS for an ambulance.

Former nurse Nazma Ramruttun says that she was left waiting after contracted firm Arriva failed to send a vehicle to Banbury’s Horton General Hospital to take her home after a cancer operation.

She was ready to leave at 2pm, she said – but didn’t get home until 10.30pm.

Eventually, after her husband weighed in, the company sent a taxi the 55 miles from Swindon to pick her up – a journey that normally costs £60, according to Cross Street Cars.

Arriva say they are meeting targets set by NHS commissioners – but that they “fully understand” the impact any delays can have on patients.

Well known in the community, Nazma has previously chaired Mental Health Act hearings, advising GWH on hospital meals, acting as a school governor. Mauritian by birth, she was instrumental in twinning Churchfields Academy and Belle Rose State Secondary School in the Indian Ocean island nation.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with powerful chemotherapy drugs.

However, she required further surgery on her throat. Last week, she travelled to Banbury for the specialist day surgery.

A quick operation, she should have been back by the late afternoon – ahead of her husband, who had travelled to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, for an appointment.

Nazma, 65, said: “What happened to me was absolutely appalling. It’s not been once. It’s not a service that they’re providing, unfortunately. They need to get their act together. They can’t be treating people this way.”

She claims that the hospital told Arriva from 2pm that she was ready to go home, although it is understood that the call wasn’t logged with the company until later in the day.

Nazma said: “I was getting restless. At 7:45 the nurse came and said to me, ‘We’ve tried and tried.’”

“The staff had to stay an hour more. It’s unacceptable. I was ill when I got home. I was so angry, I was so stressed.

“As an ex-nurse I know how hard you’re working and you want to leave.”

Eventually, Nazma texted her husband – telling him to call Arriva direct and instruct them that she was a cancer patient.

Husband Darsun, 67, told the Adver: “They said they would try and look at what happened.”

Nazma warned that it wasn’t the first time they had had problems with Arriva

It is understood that an Arriva ambulance last month arrived at Nazma’s home to take her to a GWH appointment – only to find she was not there.

Nazma said she had been admitted to hospital the night before and that her husband had phoned to inform the transport company of the move.

She says she would like to see better communication from Arriva – with drivers that had a better understanding of the area.

“We have very good drivers coming from Yeovil. Before they pick you up they’ve already done 75 odd miles and they don’t know the area,” she said.

A Healthwatch patient group volunteer, Nazma fears that other patients may be scared to complain about their experiences: “I would say there are quite a lot of people out there and quite a lot are afraid to talk, because they have to continue to use that service. For what happened to me, I felt I had to speak out.”

Arriva, who provide non-emergency transport services across the South West, say they are meeting targets set by NHS commissioners in Swindon – for pre-planned patient journeys, bookings made on the day and trips made by dialysis patients.

Mark Feather, national head of operations at Arriva Transport Solutions, added: “However, due to the pressures being felt across the healthcare system we do experience surges in demand that on occasion may result in patients waiting longer for transport.

“We fully understand the impact that these delays can have on patients and we are working with our healthcare partners to build on the improvements we have already made.”

He said that 180 journeys had been cancelled on arrival in November, with many of these a consequence of patients not being ready to travel when crews arrived or transport being booked when it is not required.

“Despite no patients actually being provided with transport these cancelled journeys place increased pressure on the service and waste precious resources that could be used for other patients waiting for transport,” he said.