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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 12:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:45 am
Posts: 913
Location: Plymouth, i think, i'll just check the A to Z!
more front page news for the plymouth taxi trade....

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720-MILE TAXI TRIPS FOR OP
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12:00 - 12 May 2005
Derriford Hospital paid a £1,000 taxi fare to ferry a woman to Dorset three times for a bunion operation.

The city hospital paid the fare, and for surgery at a private hospital, to ensure the woman's op was carried out within the six-month waiting list target.

The 67-year-old, who has asked not to be identified, has taken the 240-mile round trip to a hospital in Poole by taxi three times in the last six weeks.

One city taxi firm has estimated the meter would have hit about £1,000, at a cost of £1 a mile and £12 for every hour the driver had to wait. But the patient herself today said she didn't particularly want the taxi and she would have been will- ing to wait to have the surgery in Plymouth.

And senior Derriford Hospital consultant Professor Keith Greene, who has been 'blowing the whistle' on the state of the NHS with a series of revelations, today said too many non-urgent cases were being ferried from Plymouth to other hospitals to meet waiting list targets. Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has spent £425,000 on patient transport, including buses, private ambulances and cabs in the last year.

Today the patient who travelled for her bunion surgery said: "I could have waited. It wasn't urgent. I did need it done but not as much as some other patients do."

The Plymouth woman has had the condition on both feet for about 10 years but it has only become painful in the last two years.

She went to Derriford Hospital for an initial check-up last year and was put on the six-month waiting list.

Three weeks before the deadline was up she had a phone call from a hospital in Barnstaple, then, five days later, she was told she would be operated on privately at Poole Harbour Hospital in Dorset.

Her operation was on March 24 and she stayed overnight. A taxi from Poole ferried her to and from her home. She has been for two check-ps since and was ferried by a Plymouth cab. She said: "It's terrifying when I think how much it must cost. I cannot get my head around why I cannot be treated by the NHS in Plymouth.

"Are there not enough medical staff? Is it just so they can meet their waiting list targets?

"I cannot fault the service I got and the clinical staff in both hospitals were wonderful but the management are clearly dabbling somewhere they shouldn't.

"When I think of the size of the hospital we've got here in Plymouth I ask myself, if there is money in the NHS and we've got a grand facility on our doorstep, why do we have to send people away for treatment?"

Professor Greene, said: "The sum Derriford use for taxi fares would have purchased a considerable number of nurses for Derriford."

Other consultants have expressed frustration at the cost of ferrying patients. An e-mail seen by the Evening Herald, sent by a consultant to colleagues at Derriford, said: "This trust never seems to have any money, but it would be a matter of public interest to know how much has been spent on taxi fares to have orthopaedic operations elsewhere...I would hazard a guess at £100,000."

A spokesman for the hospitals trust said: "We are not sure where the figure of £100,000 comes from or what this is for. This does not relate to anything we can easily identify or quantify.

"This financial year the Trust spent £425,000 on patient transport - helping transport patients on benefits to and from hospital appointments (we are legally bound to do this), helping patients get home or to other care settings where they would otherwise not be able to and would therefore stay for unnecessarily long periods in hospital and emergency transport needs, e.g. if we transfer a patient to another hospital, as we sometimes do for paediatrics or neonatal care."

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i guess i must have been working elsewhere in the city when that one came in... :roll:


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