December 9, 2016
South Central Ambulance Service has announced that its sending taxi drivers to some of the more minor 999 call outs in a bid to ease the pressure on its ambulance crew.
Pilot Scheme for Taxi Drivers
“We can free up these resources by providing a taxi service to less serious patients.”
The UK’s largest emergency service provider, South Central Ambulance Service, covers a population of around four million people over Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. Receiving, on average, 1,800 emergency calls per day the demanding service is feeling the pressures of the ever increasing numbers.
A pilot scheme is already underway and taxi drivers are being sent to pick up non-life-threatening patients to ferry them to A&E.
Head of Operations, Rob Kemp, said: “We’re in a terrible position where poorly patients are waiting far too long while our resources are held up with other people.
“However, we can free up these resources by providing a taxi service to less serious patients. Our obligation is to make sure that we’ve got the resources for all of our patients – they’re our main priority.”
The news has come as a bit of surprise to some and Healthwatch Portsmouth, the independent champion for health and social care in England, expressed their concerns about the scheme.
“Taxi drivers aren’t trained paramedics. I’ve got my concerns about this and would like to see some more details.”
A spokesman said: “Although this seems like it could be a solution to easing pressure on the ambulance service, there are some concerns. What would happen if a patient deteriorated in the taxi?
“It would also have been good to have had a consultation first, with patients included to see what they think. I can imagine some people would be nervous getting into a taxi. For us, ensuring the patients’ opinions are heard while this pilot is on-going is key.”
Echoing these views Conservative MP, Flick Drummond, commented: “Taxi drivers aren’t trained paramedics. I’ve got my concerns about this and would like to see some more details.”