‘Wasteful’ NHS sent York taxi to Filey

Filey Resident Elizabeth Hirst talks about her tahi experience to York Hospital. Pic Richard Ponter 141812a
Filey Resident Elizabeth Hirst talks about her tahi experience to York Hospital. Pic Richard Ponter 141812a
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A Filey mum has slammed NHS chiefs after she requested an emergency ambulance – only for a taxi to be sent from York to take her to Scarborough Hospital.

Diabetic Elizabeth Hirst waited nearly three hours for the private hire car to make the trek after her son called 999 when her blood sugar level rocketed.

Now the “baffled” 33-year-old has demanded answers from health bosses as to why the Streamline Taxi had to make a near-100 mile round trip, when local firms could have rushed her to A&E in minutes.

“It will have cost more, and it will have taken longer, so where’s the sense in sending a taxi from York?” said Elizabeth.

“Even the taxi driver told me he was shocked he had been called out for the job.”

She originally had her son call 999 at about 6pm after concerns about her sugar levels.

However, she was refused an ambulance after the operator assessed that her symptoms were “not life threatening”.

She was promised a taxi would come within an hour to take her to Scarborough A&E – but the York taxi didn’t arrive until just before 9pm.

“The driver didn’t even know where the hospital was, or where my house was, he had to use a sat nav,” added Elizabeth.

“It wasn’t his fault, but if they are going to use taxis they should be local, as it could make a big difference to the patient’s health.”

A local taxi firm have quoted a price of £55 to the Mercury for a one-way journey from York to Filey. Streamline, the company hired by the NHS Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, refused to disclose a price.

But the health trust has defended the use of the taxis, claiming they are significantly cheaper than sending an ambulance, which it estimates costs £250 per journey.

And the trust told the Mercury it does have a contract with a more local private taxi firm, and is investigating why they weren’t used on this occasion.

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations at the trust, said: “Taxis are one of the many ways we transport a very small number of patients after they have been clinically assessed over the phone and found not to need an emergency response, but still require further care.

“They are not used to transport patients in serious or life-threatening conditions, but their very limited use does help to free up ambulance crews for patients who are in need of time-critical help.

“As a regional service we work with a number of selected providers across Yorkshire and the Humber and, as this is a relatively new way of working, we are frequently reviewing this initiative to look at how we can make improvements for the benefits of our patients.

“We would be happy to speak with Ms Hirst and ask that she contacts us directly to discuss her concerns.”

The incident happened on the evening of Monday April 28, and after spending the night in A&E, Ms Hirst discharged herself at 3.30am.

She added: “I’m feeling better now, but if the incident with the taxi is anything to go by, then I think the NHS is going down the drain.”

The ambulance trust recently came under fire after it emerged bosses were offered leases on plush £67,000 cars, while stopping staff from taking emergency calls on their breaks to save 85p per hour.

The trust claimed the cars were “appropriate”.