Queensland’s Taxi Council will support any recommendation from the Keelty Review that allows private companies to bid for the non-urgent travel needs of hospital patients.
CEO of Taxi Council Queensland Benjamin Wash said taxis were already a significant provider of transportation to the disabled community and were well suited to take on the role, which could be a big boost to the industry’s “thousands of small business operators”.
Mr Wash said it was bizarre that unions would claim it was “wrong for private operators to make money out of sick and injured people” when you consider the high cost of health services to the taxpayer and the fact that even doctors charge a fee.
“All we are saying is that if Queensland Health chooses to put non-urgent transport to tender, the taxi industry is well placed to respond,” he explained.
Mr Wash said many Queenslanders may not be aware that the state’s wheelchair accessible taxi fleet led the world.
“We have one of the highest percentage of wheelchair accessible taxis of any taxi fleet on the globe.”
He said drivers currently provide a vital service to the sick, disabled and elderly and usually went beyond the call of duty to provide an exceptionally high service standard.
However he said using taxis for patient transport also made economic sense.
“I don’t know the cost of operating an ambulance but I think I can be safe in saying that a taxi would save significant money, as all you are paying for is the travel time.”
Mr Wash said that every taxi driver and operator is a small business owner, and any Government outsourcing move would act as a stimulus to the small business sector.
“Taxis are under-utilised. As well as patient transport, there is potential for governments to save money by using taxis for low usage bus routes or other transport needs.”