Special taxi service for staff and people being tested for Covid-19 launched in Scottish capital

A new taxi service to help transport workers and patients to Covid-19 assessment and testing centres has been launched in the Scottish capital.

The new scheme, set up by NHS Lothian in partnership with Central Taxis in Edinburgh, will be on call 24 hours a day to help healthcare staff get to work and ferry people who have symptoms but cannot get to a nearby centre for care and testing.

It will be operated by a team of drivers who have all completed special training in how to use masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

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A fleet of 13 hackney-style cabs with electric doors will be employed for the service, which will collect passengers from across Edinburgh and Lothian and take them to previously arranged appointments.

NHS Lothian has teamed up with Edinburgh's Central Taxis to provide a new transport service for healthcare workers and people going for Covid-19 tests

Drivers can choose to wear PPE throughout their shift and will also provide masks to passengers.

Cabs will be disinfected between call-outs, with a deep-clean at the end of each day.

Vehicles will be booked through NHS Lothian’s Flow Centre, which organises all transport throughout the organisation.

Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director for NHS Lothian, 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.”

The new service will operate across Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian.

Central Taxis secretary Murray Fleming 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.”

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