Scheme to transport patients to hospital in taxis to expand

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MORE patients will be taken to hospital by taxi drivers after a pilot project was hailed a success.

South Central Ambulance Service launched the six-week scheme in Portsmouth in December las year

It saw patients needing medical treatment for minor conditions taken to walk-in clinics and the emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham in taxis.

During the pilot, 64 patients – on average around two-a-day – used the service.

This means 64 ambulances would have been free to treat other patients, some of who might have more serious health needs.

Philip Astle, chief operating officer at Scas, said: ‘We are really pleased the pilot has been successful.

‘It has clearly been to the benefit of patients and has had positive feedback from them.

‘It has also proved to be successful in terms of increasing the availability of our clinical resources.

‘As a result of the pilot, we will now be looking to expand this scheme into other parts of the south central area where it could improve our service to all our patients.’

Some of the feedback received from those patients using the service included comments such as ‘helpful and efficient staff’, that ‘it was suitable to my needs at the time’, and that they ‘were very grateful you were able to assist and not use an ambulance’.

As previously reported in The News, people who requested an ambulance for a minor injury that needed hospital treatment, such as a dislocated finger, were offered a taxi booked and paid for by Scas.

Before that option is offered, the patient would have been assessed over the phone or by a paramedic who would be sent.

If in either situation a taxi was deemed acceptable to use, it would be offered.

A patient is excluded if they have their own transport or could potentially need medical treatment on the way to hospital.

The drivers from the participating taxi firms have all been ‘rigorously checked’ by Scas, the NHS and the local authority.

Speaking at the launch of the pilot Rob Kemp, head of operations for south-east Hampshire at Scas, said: ‘In terms of the drivers, they are not normal taxi drivers.

‘The aren’t medically trained but they have had a number of checks including DBS – similar to that of our staff members.’