PATIENTS will be taken to hospital by a bus company after the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) failed to win a contract.

From April 1 next year non-emergency patients in Greater Manchester who need to attend hospital in an ambulance, will be taken in transport run by Arriva Bus Group.

Those who will be affected by the change to the Patient Transport Service (PTS) include the elderly who rely on the ambulances to get to hospital appointments and those undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

It will not affect 999 emergency call-outs.

Arriva, which run bus services throughout Greater Manchester, will replace NWAS which currently runs the service but was outbid by Arriva after the the service was put out to tender.

NWAS, which has its headquarters in Chorley New Road, Bolton, also bid for contracts in Cheshire, Mersyside, Cumbria and Lancashire.The proposed change in services has not yet been officially announced by the NHS, and both Arriva and the NWAS are unable to comment until midnight on October 8 as they are currently in a “standstill” period.

A spokesman for NHS Shared Business Services, which ran the contract bidding service, said they were also unable to comment until next Monday.

But a statement from NWAS Unison, said the preferred bidder to run Greater Manchester was Arriva and not NWAS.

The statement added: “It is our understanding this is on the basis of cost only.

“However, NWAS is the preferred bidder for Cheshire, Mersey, Cumbria and Lancashire.

“We understand the delay in formerly announcing this is due to the fact a challenge has been made by an unknown party and the commissioners have instructed the Trust to maintain the embrgo on information being put out.

“That is why the management are unable to inform the staff as originally planned.”

Darren Hurrell, NWAS chief executive, said: “The North West Ambulance Service can confirm a bid was submitted by the Trust, to continue to provide patient transport services for all of the five counties in the North West.”