Taxi service launched in Edinburgh and Lothian to help COVID-19 response


A new taxi service to help transport staff and patients to COVID-19 assessment and testing centres was launched this week across Edinburgh and Lothian areas.


NHS Lothian has teamed up with Central Taxis in Edinburgh to provide the 24/7 service to people who have symptoms but cannot get to a nearby centre for care and testing.

A team of drivers, who have signed up to provide the service, have all completed training in how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training.


They will use 13 hackney style taxis, with electric doors, to collect passengers from across Edinburgh and Lothian and ferry them to previously-arranged appointments.


The service will be booked through NHS Lothian's Flow Centre, which organises all transport throughout the organisation.

Dr Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, said: "Very often, we are finding that people may have symptoms, but are well and mobile, but for many reasons can't get to a centre.


"This taxi service is perfect. People can be collected wherever they are and driven directly to their appointment for the care they need. The drivers sit in a sealed cockpit and they can wear PPE if they choose. The passenger is also given a face mask. At the end of each journey, the cab is cleaned down."


George Curley, Director of Facilities, NHS Lothian said: "Our teams have been working really hard to bring all of this together and we are pleased that we can provide this service to our staff and patients with Central Taxis."


Central Taxis, which is the largest firm in Edinburgh and has more than 450 vehicles, will work across Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian.


Drivers can choose to wear PPE throughout their shift and will provide masks to their passengers. The passenger can also wear a mask until entering their destination.


At the end of the journey, the driver will clean down the cab and discard PPE by bagging it in the way they have been trained to do, before the vehicle is given a deep clean at the end of the day.


Murray Fleming, Secretary of Central Taxis, said: "We have created a micro fleet within our fleet of taxis specifically to help in the COVID-19 crisis.


"We worked out a way that would allow us to do something to help staff and patients on the frontline. There is minimal contact between the patient and the vehicle because the driver controls the doors. The driver wears PPE and never leaves the cockpit, which has a sealed partition.


"We asked our drivers if anyone would want to join the service and the reaction was really encouraging. Our team are all quite relaxed and very positive about it and they have had the training they need. They all said they wanted to do something to help and join the frontline crews."


Image credit: NHS Lothian

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