ONE taxi firm last year received in excess of €1.8m from the Health Service Executive (HSE) as part of an overall €24.8m spend on cabs.
There were three taxi firms who last year received payments in excess of €1m from the HSE, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
These were National Radio Cabs in Dublin, Sun Cabs in Cork and Seirbhis Iompair Tuaithe Teo based in Kilcar, Co Donegal.
The bill to the HSE for taxi services last year reduced by €1.5m on 2011 – from €26.428m to €24.861m – a reduction of 6pc.
The figures show that the spend by the HSE from its corporate section on taxis last year reduced from €334,323 to €314,783.
In total, National Radio Cabs last year received €1.8m for providing taxi services to the HSE in the Dublin Mid Leinster and Northern areas.
Seirbhis Iompair Tuaithe Teo got €1.6m for services in the North West while Sun Cabs received payments of €1.02m for taxi services in the HSE South area.
National Radio Cabs is the largest taxi firm in the country with more than 700 cabs on the road.
The biggest spend by area was in the Dublin Mid Leinster area. And the highest spend on taxis within Dublin Mid Leinster (DML) was the HSE Midlands area where the spend on taxis last year totalled €2.6m.
A number of taxi firms received payments in excess of €500,000 with two firms serving the DML area. Precious Cargo received payments totalling €637,826 and Dave's Taxis received €629,153.
The HSE said: "Spend on taxis was one of the areas targeted by the HSE last year as part of cost containment measures.
"As is evident from the detail on spend across each of the HSE regions, significant savings of €1.5m were achieved in this area last year.
"HSE vehicles and their staff are prioritised for frontline, emergency work and therefore a much more effective service is provided for patients or clients who are not acutely ill through the use of taxis.
"The use of taxis for patient transport represents a more cost-effective solution when compared to investment in a fleet of HSE-owned vehicles for this purpose.
"Additional costs relating to this would include the provision of 24/7 staffing, maintenance, fuel, insurance and tax."