HSE spends millions on taxis without tender process
TAXI companies are receiving sums in excess of €200,000 per annum from the HSE without having to tender for the work, it has emerged.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the HSE West confirmed that it paid taxi companies €3.7m last year across nine counties stretching from Donegal to Limerick.
The figures released show that three taxi companies received more than €200,000 last year.
TMG Passenger (SF Cab) based in Swinford, Co Mayo received the highest amount at €295,998 with Brehon's Taxi Service of Curraghroe, Co Roscommon receiving €246,155.
A fourth company, the Limerick-based Castletroy Corporate Cabs received €209,751.
Big-O-Taxi-Co, Upper Domin- ick Street, Galway received €168,120 and Athlone Cab Company of Athlone got €158,805.
The records show that: Maura Reaney of Connemara, Co Galway received €137,726; Francis Comer of Oranmore, Co Galway received €137,724; Gertie Clark of Strokestown, Co Roscommon received €131,090; Letterkenny Cabs received €125,760; Sean T McCann of Charlestown, Co Mayo received €125,374, Owen Linnane of Ardrahan, Co Galway received €116,240, while Moran's Minibus, Castlebar, Co Mayo received €105,814.
The HSE yesterday confirmed that the taxi work was not put out to tender, but said it intended to roll out the tender processing for taxi work across the country after a pilot scheme covering Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare.
The spokeswoman pointed out that contracts for taxi services covering Galway, Mayo and Roscommon were put out to tender in October 2001 with expiry date in October 2005.
"Arrangements were put in place to ensure that continuity of service was guaranteed until a new tender was advertised," she added.
No tendering for taxi services had occurred since 2005 due to a number of factors, according to the spokeswoman.
These include an internal review of patient transport services in 2008, and an evaluation of rates undertaken by the Commission for Taxi Regulation, before it introduced new rates effective November 2008.
Chairman of the HSE West Forum, Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) yesterday said: "I am surprised that a public body like the HSE would not be seeking tenders for work like this and seeking value for money."
Forum member Cllr Brian Meaney (Green Party) said: "It is necessary to identify a more cost effective method of providing the transport for people wishing to access services."