Council bosses will meet with a bus operator after a buses to a hospital were replaced with minibuses that are "unsuitable" for the elderly.

Essex County Council has confirmed that it is due to hold talks with Central Connect tomorrow (October 5) to find a solution to problems with the 418 service in Epping as well as other services.

One resident, Danielle Fox, says she noticed the 418 bus service, which runs every two hours from Loughton to St Margaret’s Hospital, has “stopped running” since September.

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According to her, the 418 is a “lifeline” for those without cars and anyone requiring medical attention at the hospital.

She noticed the service running again from September 22 but added that it was now a minibus – which she says the driver admitted was “not suitable”, often being full without enough seating space for elderly passengers.

Mrs Fox added that an elderly friend expected the service on September 29 but it never came.

She claims: “Bus passengers here in Theydon Bois have missed outpatient appointments and an elderly gentleman was stranded in Epping having to consider a taxi to Abridge that he could ill afford.

“I have many more instances that I can relate of the stress and havoc the sudden disappearance of the bus service has caused.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: "Central Connect, which operates the 418 service in Epping, is still experiencing issues with some services due to the national shortage of drivers, as well as the further impact of certain roadworks.

“Both Central Connect and Essex County Council are extremely grateful for the continued patience shown by all passengers whilst we work very closely with the operator to resolve these issues proactively."

Ms Fox says she tried to contact the county council and Central Connect but has yet to hear a response as to why people are unable to use the bus service.

Essex County Council has promised to provide an update after meetings later in the week.

Central Connect has been contacted for further information.