London Black Cabs have already begun supporting the NHS by transporting patients with COVID-19 symptoms and who also require assessment for other non-urgent health conditions, thanks to a partnership between the NHS in South East London and taxi platform Gett.
Despite GP practices handling as many patient queries as possible on the telephone, some patients will continue to require a face-to-face appointment. This new initiative has seen Black Cab drivers transporting patients who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, but still need to be seen by a GP, to and from designated NHS community centres.
Black Cabs are being used for this service as the “privacy divider” maintains separation between the driver and passenger, and the interior design allows the cabs to be professionally cleaned between each journey to standards set by the NHS.
But what measures are being taken to keep the vehicles clean between rides? Protective measures include:
Additional covering of the privacy screen between the driver and passenger, provided by the NHS.
Professional cleaning of the passenger cabin between each passenger journey by a specialist company provided by the NHS, using products and processes within the Public Health England Infection Control Guidance, carried out wearing full PPE.
Covering any fabric in the vehicle with wipeable material, provided by the NHS.
Masks for the passengers and driver, provided by the NHS, and alcohol gel for the driver.
Opening the window in the passenger cabin throughout journeys as increased ventilation is recommended to help reduce the virus circulating.
As a precautionary measure, Black Cab drivers with certain health conditions will not be allowed to provide this service, based on NHS guidance.
Gavin McColl, a Southwark GP who proposed the idea said: “London’s Black Cab drivers are keen to do all they can to help in this crisis and we are very pleased to be working with Gett and the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) to put this in place. It is vital that we continue to provide GP services to patients in South East London even if they have Covid-19 symptoms, and this ensures they can get to the dedicated NHS community centres without spreading the disease.”
Duncan Burgess, Gett UK Managing Director, said: “London's Black Cab drivers are the best in the world and it's clear that many want to do what they can to support the vulnerable and protect communities. We are delighted to be able to provide the technology, operations support, dispatch system and contact centre team to support the NHS at this vital time.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said:
"London's Black Cab trade is proud to be part of this initiative to support Londoners and the NHS by getting people who need to see their GPs to their appointments quickly and safely. During this crisis, we are working hard to help people who need to make essential journeys."
Image credits: Simon Jacobs