A government minister and a leading disability rights group have raised concerns as the country's biggest health authority prepares to award a £2m taxi contract to a private hire company.

Communities minister Stewart Maxwell, the West of Scotland MSP, said he was concerned that Network Private Hire (NPH) appeared to lack a fleet capable of carrying disabled patients, adding that there were questions over whether the firm would be licensed for NHS work.

He also criticised NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for being "evasive" in announcing and answering questions about the contract, which was provisionally awarded to NPH last month.

NPH, in its contract bid, said it had a fleet of 750 vehicles and pledged to purchase a further 56 "facility cabs" to carry wheelchair users.

Alan Dickson, chief executive of Capability Scotland, said it was "crucial" that wheelchair accessible cars were available for NHS patients. He added: "Letting a contract for transport to and from hospitals that does not provide for disabled people will only result in them incurring expense in organising their own transport, or missing their appointments."

A report submitted by GG&C health board on August 18 recommended approving the award of the contract to NPH following its " well structured and well thought out" bid, but a spokeswoman for the health board said that final approval had not been given as " matters have arisen that are still being considered by the board".

Mr Maxwell said that "too many questions" remained over NPH's suitability to operate the services. "Despite reassurances from the health board, I remain concerned that NPH appears to lack the necessary fleet of vehicles to meet the needs of patients who have mobility problems and who require wheelchair accessible cabs," he said.

Furthermore, North Lanarkshire Council's head of legal services, June Murray, said it would not "knowingly permit" the licensing of vehicles whose base was outside the council area.