Hospital spends £250k a year on taxis

IPSWICH Hospital spent almost a quarter of a million pounds providing taxis for patients last year, it has emerged today.Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that £249,700 was paid out for taxi journeys in 2004/5 and so far this year the bill has come to £82,678.

IPSWICH Hospital spent almost a quarter of a million pounds providing taxis for patients last year, it has emerged today.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that £249,700 was paid out for taxi journeys in 2004/5 and so far this year the bill has come to £82,678.

This means Ipswich is one of the 20 highest spending hospitals in the country when it comes to taxi journeys - despite struggling with debts of more than £16m.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said: “Taxis are only used in exceptional circumstances and only when a patient or their family really needs one.

“Some of the journeys can be very long as they may be to other hospitals out of the county, which is why the journeys may end up being expensive.

“For example, if we have a lady who has had a very premature baby which needs the kind of specialist care that can only be offered at Addenbrooke's there may only be room in an ambulance for the mum and the baby.

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“The father and other family members may require a taxi to ensure they get their quickly. We have to have compassion for people in circumstances like this.”

An investigation by a Sunday newspaper found that NHS trusts in the UK spent £25m on taxis in 2004/5. The figure for 2005/6 is expected to be about £23.5m.

Ipswich is one of only twenty trusts in the country that paid more than £200,000 for cabs in the last financial year.

The average expenditure per trust was £128,000.

Ms Rowsell said: “One of the reasons our taxi bill is larger is the rural nature of some of the areas our patients come from.

“If it means someone can stay at home and be more independent, then the costs of taxi bills would be a lot less than the cost of unnecessarily keeping someone in a hospital bed.”

She said the hospital also use non-emergency ambulances for more routine patient transport needs like access to clinics and support groups.

Do you think this is a good use of money? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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