“The Government should do much more to relieve pressure on ambulance providers to safeguard patients.”
North East Ambulance Services said on Sunday that taxis are only sent to sufferers who dialled 999 when their situation isn’t deemed serious.
Figures released underneath Freedom of Info revealed the Trust’s complete taxi bill for taking individuals to hospital was £493,000 in 2013, such as emergency calls and patient transfers.
Neighbouring North West Ambulance Services said it “does not arrange for personal taxis to convey individuals to A&E in these circumstances.”
The revelations come only months following it was unveiled that police autos in the North East had been used to get patients to hospital on 164 occasions among September, 2012, and October, 2013. Barry Coppinger, Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said his officers routinely had to consider patients to hospital because no ambulances have been available.
Joel Byers, secretary of the North East Ambulance Service branch of Unison, stated he was hugely concerned about the safety of individuals currently being transported in taxis.
He stated: “What checks are they undertaking on these individuals? When you have an urgent task occasionally they turn out to be worse than an emergency task.
“What care is a taxi driver going to give a patient in a cab? Somebody can search healthy a single minute and then collapse the up coming.”
Mr Byers claimed ambulance trusts are being forced to place all of their professional resources into meeting the Government’s eight-minute response times for severe circumstances at the expense of significantly less significant calls which are not vetted as closely.
He additional: “We don’t have adequate two-guy cars. We have paramedics on their personal who are supposed to appear at a patient, diagnose them and choose if they require to go to hospital.”
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said: “If any individual thinks we are taking emergency sufferers to hospital in a taxi, they have acquired the incorrect finish of the stick.
“Whilst a contact may well come by way of on the emergency 999 line, this does not imply the situation is a healthcare emergency.
“Other calls that come via on 999 might require the patient to go to hospital, but not be so critical that we have to despatch a paramedic.”