SWANSEA Bay University Health Board’s taxi bill increased to nearly £480,000 last financial year, figures have shown.
It spent on £478,903 on taxis in 2022-23, up from £465,879 the previous year. The figures follow a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The health board was asked to list the various taxi journey types but said it didn’t hold this information. It gave examples though, such as the collection of patients for treatment who lived outside Swansea and Neath Port Talbot – a non-emergency ambulance service is used for patients within the health board area. It said taxis were also used out of hours for transporting samples and records, among other things. The heath board added that it also employed a driver who did some of these jobs.
Asked what steps it took to keep taxi costs down, and whether it had a preferred taxi supplier, the health board said: “Taxi bills and journeys are analysed monthly to ensure best value for money. As a result of this exercise, a second driver has recently been employed by the health board to help with ad hoc work.”
It added: “Out-of-hours journeys are inconsistent. A costing analysis has been undertaken and taxis are the most cost-effective option for this time of day.”
The health board has a contracted taxi company following a tender process. “The contract is very strict and requires health board journeys to be prioritised,” it said. “Standalone journeys are required, for example for notes and specimens, and cannot be in the boot with a paying fare in the car.”
A West Cross resident said one of their neighbours was brought home by taxi from hospital, followed by another taxi carrying the patient’s medication the next day because it hadn’t been ready at the point of discharge.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said he could understand the health board wanting to get medically fit patients home to free up hospital beds, but, when told about the latest taxi bill, said: “Half a million pounds is quite a lot – it would pay for a lot of nurses.”
The health board spent £1.4 billion in total in 2022-23 – some of that was recouped with income of £305 million.