PATIENTS in South Tyneside are having to pay more to take a taxi home – because hospital bosses are trying to save cash.
South Shields-based taxi firm Dial A Cab had a contract with South Tyneside Hospital until October to provide cabs for people needing transport home.
However, at the end of last year, the contract went out to tender.
Hospital bosses awarded it to City Taxis Sunderland, saying it offered the best value for money.
But regular users of the service, which can be booked through the hospital’s freephone and reception, are angry that the starting daytime tariff has risen from £2 to £2.40.
A man, who did not wish to be named, said: “I regularly use the taxi service which was provided through the hospital, and I was shocked to see that it had risen by 40p.
“I also had to wait longer then I normally did, and when I questioned why I was told that the taxis now come from Sunderland.
“I think it’s madness that patients in South Shields now have to depend on a Wearside service, when there’s plenty in Shields, and they’re having to pay more to get home.”
Brent Kilmurray, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s executive director in business strategy, said the decision to switch firms was based on value for money.
He said: “Last October, we went out to tender for the taxi service provision for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust for patient and staff transport.
“After this competitive process, the contract, which was previously held by Dial A Cab of South Shields, was awarded to City Taxis Sunderland.”
A spokesman from Dial A Cab, which is based in Laygate, agrees it’s unfair that Shields people now have to pay Sunderland prices.
He said: “This is not a case of sour grapes, but I do think it’s very unfair that Shields folk have to be charged the prices which are set out by Sunderland Council.
“We had the contract for three years, and during that time we never had any issues with the public.”