Hospital cab deal niggles
A deal between the Wellington and the Hutt Valley’s hospital boards and a Wellington taxi company could cost patients and visitors dearly.
Late last year Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley district health boards renewed a contract with Wellington Combined Taxis to provide patient and package transfer services between their three hospitals.
Since the agreement, Porirua Taxis’ free phone has been removed from Kenepuru Hospital and only Wellington Combined Taxis can use the hospital’s taxi stands.
Capital & Coast District Health Board corporate services director Kelvin Watson said Wellington Combined Taxis was chosen in an open tender process because of its ability to deliver a professional and reliable regional service.
However, the service comes at a cost.
A comparison between the Wellington Combined and Porirua companies tariffs shows residents would pay almost $5 more for a 5km trip.
Wellington Combined charges $1 extra for rides from the hospital stand, $ 3.50 flagfall and $2.95 per kilometre.
Porirua Taxis charges $1 for phone hires, a flagfall charge of $2 and $2.50 per kilometre. A 5km ride to or from the hospital would cost $14.50 in a Porirua Taxis car or $19.25 by Wellington Combined Taxis.
Porirua Taxis manager Raj Gordon said he had no problem with Wellington Combined Taxis win- ning the transfer contract, or having exclusive use of the hospital taxi rank.
‘‘Our real concern is the phone. People can’t call us and don’t have a choice and the problem is that it costs more.’’
If no Wellington Combined cabs were standing at the hospital rank, people calling a taxi faced a wait while one travelled from Wellington, he said.
Mr Watson said Wellington Combined Taxis paid for two dedicated taxi ranks and a direct phone line for its customers, and a dedicated line for its free patient transfer service between hospitals.
Spaces for other taxi companies would reduce patient and visitor parking, he said.
Patients or visitors could call an alternative taxi service from the orderly station phone, which was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Mr Watson said.
Capital & Coast board member Barbara Donaldson said she had been following the issue up.
‘‘ Obviously people should be able to use the taxis they normally use. It can’t be just about what is effective and efficient for the hospital board.’’
Hospital board staff had told her that the decision to remove Porirua Taxis’ direct line from the hospital, and to exclude all but Wellington Combined cabs from the taxi stand, had been taken by the hospital manager and was unrelated to the the contract.
However, patients and visitors had 24-hour access to the orderly station phone at Kenepuru Hospital and that seemed to be a solution, she said.