To Uber or ambulance?

pictured: the NHS trust are looking into alternative means of transporting patients. (Source: Rolf Larsen via flickr.)

by Hollie-Jane Winstanley

Like many taxi services, Uber has it’s positive and negative reviews. Yet in the end it is what it is; just a taxi service. NHS asking for Uber taxis to transport non-emergency patients is not only dangerous on both the driver and the patients side, isn’t it preventing a duty of care that the NHS have to the patients? Yes, Uber cars will be accessable to all kinds of patients thanks to UberAccess and UberWav but have Ceracarers really considered the task that would be entitled to them and Uber drivers? In theory, the prospect of using a public taxi service to transport non-emergency patients could be a positive step in the right direction, and having carers that will help assist patients in the taxi is again quite clever. However, the lack of funding this idea has, as well as the lack of consideration to the kinds of patients the taxi service will be transporting is truly ridiculous.

There are so many illnesses which are both visible and invisible, that to place a patient who is still under the care of the NHS; whether they are non-emergency or outpatients, is frankly more of a danger to the driver and carer if there is a lack of the correct facilities. For example, transporting cancer patients who are well enough to travel with carers but unable to travel by themselves or drive themselves is beneficial to all involved, yet what if something were to happen to the patient whilst in the Uber taxi? There is only one trained carer there to help the patient, with an unqualified Uber taxi driver stuck in the London traffic trying to get to the hospital. Not the best idea really. If they were to still travel by the ambulance services available there is much better equipment to deal with possible health issues along the way, even if the Uber taxi is for non-emergencies. Personally I think having a stranger transport someone with illnesses such as Dementia, Parkinson’s disease or someone who has had a stroke, puts them under unnecessary duress. The responsibility of their driving spikes, and if something were to happen to the driver because of the patients’ mental state or lack of control; even with a carer present, it would be a lot of stress for the Uber taxi drivers. This seems excessive when there are already ambulance drivers that are better equipped to handle patients with a range of these issues.

Let’s not forget that the main goal for the NHS in signing up to this regime is to rid patients of bed-blocking, and with so many cases of patients going home still ill because of the rush to get beds, is there any need for another incentive for the people who we trust with our lives, to rush into forcing someone out of a hospital bed that they so desperately need? Bed-blocking will not stop just because of an Uber taxi service.

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