Hospi­tal cab deal nig­gles

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By JIM CHIPP

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.

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