OVER €250,000 was spent by Kerry General Hospital (KGH) in the past five years transporting patients to hospitals in Cork via taxi and ambulance, new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act can reveal.
A total of €43,888.23 was spent on taxis from KGH to Cork University Hospital (CUH) and Mercy University Hospital (MUH) in Cork. HSE spending on taxis from Kerry to Cork has dropped almost every year.
In 2007, 94 patients were transported from Kerry to Cork at a cost of €14,567.63. This figure was almost halved in 2008, when €8,715.78 was spent transporting 52 patients. In 2009, 42 people travelled to Cork for treatment via taxi, at a cost of €7,157.69.
These figures dropped again in 2010, with 40 patients transporting from KGH to CUH and MUH, costing €6,559.23. Last year, the HSE spent €6,887.90 for 41 patients to be treated in Cork. The HSE did not specify the reasons why patients were transferred from KGH to Cork. It also did not stipulate if the figures included staff wages.
"The drop in the costs reflect the number requiring transport decreasing from 36 in 2011 compared to 74 in 2007.
"When a patient is required to attend hospitals in Cork as part of their care, the option of transport is discussed with each patient. In many cases, the patient's family members arrange their own transport in order to be with their loved one during their appointment. In circumstances where there is no transport available for patients, a taxi is provided."
A total of 1,345 patients were transported from KGH to Cork hospitals via ambulance from 2007 to 2011, at a cost of €205,516. Staff wages are included in this figure.
In all, 6,725 hours of staff time was spent transporting patients in ambulances.