THE HSE clocked up a €1.2m bill on taxis to transfer patients to and from University Hospital Limerick last year, according to figures released to Cllr Michael Hourigan.
But the Fine Gael councillor is concerned that not all taxi firms in Limerick are being given a fair opportunity to bid for the work.
Figures released to Cllr Hourigan at the HSE West Forum in Galway showed the taxi bill at Limerick’s biggest hospital was €1.2m in 2011 and rose to €1.34m in 2012. The taxi services are predominantly used by dialysis and cancer patients.
Running at over €1m per annum, Cllr Hourigan said this was a significant amount and he believed the HSE should try and get more value for money by putting the service out to tender.
But he said he had been “left frustrated” in his efforts to elicit details from the HSE on its plans to attract competing bids form taxi firms.
“I was told there was currently no tender process ongoing for the provision of taxi services at University Hospital Limerick, the Maternity, Croom or Ennis.”
He had been told that under a national framework, the HSE could award contracts to taxi firms locally by running “mini-competitions”.
It was intended to run such a competition in Limerick in 2014 but the HSE told Cllr Hourigan that “in accordance with procurement regulations and the procedures in the national framework for transport services, there is no need to advertise to run mini-competitions”.
“I am concerned because this is a lot of money for the HSE to be spending, at over a million a year” Cllr Hourigan said.
“I would like everybody in the taxi business in Limerick to get an opportunity to tender for this service and it wouldn’t be a monopoly for any one taxi firm.”
The HSE had not replied at the time of going to press to a query on which firms currently held contracts for taxi services for University Hospital Limerick.