Last night we had a call to a woman who’d fallen over and sprained her ankle. The location of the call was “sitting in a black cab”. Sitting in a black cab a mile or two away from the hospital on a busy Friday night. Why on earth did they call an ambulance? Surely the obvious solution here is to get the cab driver to drive to the hospital? They could have driven there and back twice in the forty minutes it took for an ambulance to arrive. I can only suspect the patient didn’t want to pay the fare, or thought she would be seen quicker arriving in a big white taxi as opposed to a black one.

It gets worse, though. The ambulance crew were on scene for about fifteen minutes and didn’t even take the patient to hospital. As soon as they had left, the taxi driver called 999 – potentially blocking life threatening calls from getting through – to moan about the attitude of the crew who attended.

I can only guess what the crew in question said – I think they probably echoed the sentiments of everyone in Control.

If the taxi driver ever does find the correct procedure to make a complaint, I cannot imagine the complaints department having a lot of sympathy. I wish we could make a counter complaint against him for making rubbish calls!

Published Apr 18, 2009 - 8 Comments and counting

8 Comments on “Black Cab v Big White Taxi”
  1. caramaena Says:

    Was it the patient or the taxi driver who originally called? I wonder because it seems strange, to me, for the taxi driver to later call to make a complaint.

    Also, I think I remember someone else having a call to someone who was trying to get a taxi to the hospital and the driver refused and called for the ambulance instead (when it was an injury that didn't really require one). Can't recall who's blog though, Tom Reynold's perhaps.

  2. MarkUK Says:

    Shouldn't there be a mechanism whereby Control and crews can refer someone, like the cabbie, for "words of advice" in situations like this?

    Perhaps the words could be along the lines of "wasting time, duty to other patients, when to call 999, what really constitutes an emergency, courtesy to ambulance staff" or "see this? It's an Agincourt Salute".

  3. Jake Says:

    I remember that one, actually, and the patient in question had actually broken his leg.

  4. caramaena Says:

    Ahh yes, that's right. Thanks Jake, I couldn't recall the exact details.

    Can't imagine how anyone would think an ambulance is appropriate for a sprained ankle in general. I can only presume she thought it was broken??

  5. Suzi Brent Says:

    Yeah, Jake is right. This was the post in question. The taxi driver actually yanked the poor geezer with the broken leg from the back of the cab!

    There was no mention of a broken leg, and we do ask about obvious signs of a break. Even if she did suspect a possible fracture I still think the sensible thing (given that she was already sitting in the cab) would be to get the cab to take you to the hospital.

    We had about five calls (impatience!) made by the patient herself, the patient's friend who was with her and the taxi driver….

  6. Suzi Brent Says:

    Yes, the CTA reviewer can call these back and suggest they make their own way, but they can't force them – annoyingly, everyone has the right to insist on an ambulance.

  7. DavidWaldock Says:

    Uhm, why do they have that right? Where is it enshrined?

    The fact is, this is an abuse of the taxpayer's money, and until abusers are called to account, they will continue to exploit services provided for real emergencies.

    Campaign for abusers to be charged (financially, not criminally!)!

  8. Suzi Brent Says:

    I dunno, I don't make the rules. If I did we would have some very different ones…

    Nee Naw
    Nee Naw was a blog about life in the London Ambulance Service control room. It was written by Suzi Brent from 2005 to 2010. The blog is no longer being updated, but the archives will remain here.
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