A UNION representing ambulance workers has slammed a decision to outsource non-emergency travel for South Yorkshire kidney patients to a Sheffield taxi firm.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust has lost the contract for renal patients being transported to and from hospital for treatment such as dialysis.
Instead from July 1 patients will be transported by City Taxis, following a decision made by the South Yorkshire primary care trusts.
Furious trade union representatives said the decision marked the “privatisation” of the ambulance service and claimed it would put patients at risk.
Unison ambulance branch secretary Bryn Webster said: “This is an appalling move which will have a negative impact on patient care.
“What it means to the patients is that instead of getting a purpose-built vehicle, with fully-trained staff, they will now be getting a taxi.
“As a trade union we will take some convincing that an ambulance service can be adequately provided by a taxi company.
“We have serious concerns about what may happen to a patient if they take ill whilst in transit.
“If they were in an ambulance staff would have the equipment and the training to deal with any situation.
“We are not convinced that this would be the same if they were in the back of the taxi.
“We firmly believe there is a place in society for a taxi service but not in transporting and possibly treating patients. We also fear that this may be a start to further privatisation of ambulance services across the region.”
City Taxis’ new contract lasts three years. The union was last night unclear whether the decision would affect ambulance workers’ jobs.