Staff and parents at Leeds Children’s Hospital Neonatal Unit have thanked Amber Cars, Leeds and Bradford’s biggest private hire taxi company, for providing free transport for parents during a challenging period of separation.
Amber Cars, which is part of the Veezu Group, has helped provide more than 450 journeys to these wards since 15 April from addresses in Leeds and the wider Yorkshire area.
Amber Cars introduced new additional measures at the beginning of lockdown as the prevention of COVID-19 became a way of everyday life and local communities sought a safe and convenient alternative to public transport.
The operator noted that they have always prioritised the highest safety standards for passengers and drivers. Face coverings were made available to all drivers as well as trialling in-vehicle protective screens to help separate drivers from passengers or new parents, in this case.
Twenty-year-old Stephanie Longbottom from Pudsey, who gave birth to her first son Damon-James two months ago, has benefitted from Amber Cars’ generosity. She is also mum to Lilly-Rose, 3, and said: “It’s been great not to have to worry about taking public transport or booking a taxi in plenty of time to get to Damon-James.
“Every trip has been safe, hygienic and reliable and I can’t recommend it enough. I have been getting in to see my son every day but Sunday, and it has made such a difference. He is really making progress.”
Chris Neary, Regional Director at Amber Cars, said: “We have always responded to the communities we serve and realised there was a gap in this provision that we could help with. The pandemic has presented so many challenges including with public transport and travelling safely and hygienically. We always strive to do the right thing and we have been happy to be able to help and give the parents one less thing to worry about.”
Drivers and their vehicles have access to specialist regional vehicle cleaning stations in another effort introduced at Amber Cars, to demonstrate the company’s continued commitment to moving passengers safely around their communities.
Passengers are advised – in line with UK Government guidance – to avoid contact and sit in the back seat while travelling, to wear their own face covering and to wash their hands before and after travelling.
Kelly Gill, Team Leader Neonatal Surgery at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “This was a very generous thing to do and has helped many parents regularly be with their newborns. Safety and hygiene are obviously paramount at this challenging time and parents know they can rely on Amber Cars in terms of this. Amber Cars’ service has been invaluable at this difficult time.“
Liz McKechnie, Consultant Neonatologist at Leeds Children’s Hospital and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds added: “Thank you so much to Amber Cars for the amazing support of parents on our Neonatal units. It is a very worrying time for any parent having a baby on the Neonatal unit at any time. But at the moment, with restricted parental access to the hospital and the added anxiety of COVID-19, parents have been really struggling.
“Add to that the cost of taxis to get to and from the hospital and stress levels go through the roof. This incredibly generous donation of taxis for parents has completely taken one big worry completely away. It is a very, very generous donation that has been made and we are all very grateful.”