HSE has spent almost €90m on taxis since 2012

The executive is spending nearly €50,000 on taxi services every day

HSE has spent almost €90m on taxis since 2012

Image: RollingNews.ie

There have been calls to scrutinize spending by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after figures revealed they are spending €50,000 a day on taxis.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show a massive spend by the executive on taxi services over the past few years.

More than €2,000 an hour is the mammoth bill the HSE is wracking up on taxis.

Two taxi companies, NRC and Dave's Taxis, have been paid more than €1m in fares this year alone.

While €910,000 was paid to Mallow Taxi Co Ltd this year. A further 34 companies have been paid in excess of €100,000.

In total between January and October 2016, almost €16m was spent on taxis by the executive.

The HSE spend works out at €2,079 every single hour since the start of 2012.

When asked to comment on the figures, a spokesman said: "HSE vehicles and their staff are prioritised for front line, 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."

They went on to justify the spend - saying it made more commercial sense than having a fleet of HSE-owned cars.

"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. The use of taxis also allows the HSE flexibility in the face of variable demand."

The HSE spend on taxis fell by more than €3m between 2012 (€20m) and 2015 (€17m).

However if the final two months of this year stay consistent with the rest of 2016, that figure will have risen to €19m by the end of this month.

Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly says the spend needs to be justified by management.

And Dave Hughes, deputy general-Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), says much of the spend may be justified.