NHS Spending £60k A Year On Taxis To Move Staff And Patients

Hospitals in Cardiff spent nearly £60,000 ferrying staff and patients around South Wales last year. The cash was spent on moving patients and medical staff between Cardiff’s two main hospitals – the University Hospital of Wales and Llandough Hospital – and staff and patients’ homes.

The figures were released to the Echo following a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The figures show that during March of this year, the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust spent on average £4,664.19 on taxi fares to transport patients (which would work out as an average £55,970.28 per year), and £271.61 on taxi fares to transport staff (which would work out on average £3,259.32 per year).

Taking March as a typical month, taxi fares would have totalled on average £59,229.6 last year. But a spokeswoman for UHW said taxis were used “marginally” more than usual in March. The spokeswoman added that taxi services were used for:

  • Transfer of staff covering emergency sick leave and staff shortages;
  • Urgent transfer of specialist clinicians;
  • Emergency call-outs of specialist medical staff after hours;
  • Urgent delivery of equipment to patients at home;
  • Discharging patients home after hours;

The Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust called the service “extremely valuable” but tax-payers said bosses should find cheaper means of ferrying staff and patients around South Wales.

Expectant mum Sam Thomson, 29, who is also a mum of three and part-time supermarket worker, of Grangetown, Cardiff, said: “It sounds a lot. I thought they only used ambulances but then there’s probably not enough ambulances to transport staff and patients. I do think staff should be finding other forms of transport.”

Margaret Hollingworth, 73, a former nursing auxiliary, of Llandaff North, Cardiff, said: “I agree with using taxis for patients, but for staff – no way. When I was working at the Heath, cardiac patients, for example, often used to go home by taxi. It’s very hard because when you’ve had heart surgery that probably is the best way to be going home. We definitely need more ambulances and facilities for out-patients.”

A 55-year-old woman from Fairwater, Cardiff, who asked not to be named, said: “If they haven’t got any ambulances what are they supposed to do? I wouldn’t know why they have to use taxis but I would think that’s why. I think they should be looking at cheaper ways of transporting staff and patients, £60,000 is a lot of money.”

Peter Welsh, director of corporate management for the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said: “The Trust has received a high quality service from taxi drivers for our patients and staff over many years. The service they provide for urgent needs is extremely valuable and helps reduce our demand on the ambulance service.

“We are always looking for ways to provide a more cost-effective service for the transfer of patients, staff and medical equipment, and the trust is looking to expand the in-house service we run in partnership with the Ambulance Trust. This service would be able to support the transfer of patients and staff within the Trust and although it would not be able to meet all the demand that is currently fulfilled by taxis, it will help us to reduce our taxi expenditure.”