Uber and hospital transport

Hospital Transport is a life-line for people like myself

Image result for ambulance car

Especially after I fractured seven bones last year, and could only shuffle a few yards.  I relied on the drivers and vehicles that provide hospital transport, and came to admire their training and expertise.

Then I heard that Uber were being considered as a potential supplier for this transport.

This horrified me – yet again the NHS will go for the cheapest option, disregarding that Uber drivers aren’t trained to ‘handle’ us, don’t seem to have very good Criminal Record Checks (if the complaints are anything to go by), and drivers don’t have any limit to the number of hours they work.  So when this petition came up I signed:a card to TfL to thank them for standing up to Uber, and ensuring safer conditions for passengers and drivers.
Will you add your name and pass it on too please?


Apparently there are thousands who rely on Uber, who will be unhappy that Transport for London (TfL) say they will not be issued with a new private hire licence,  Phew!  My concerns were about how the company were going to organise training in handling hospital patients in their cars were over.  With 40,000 Uber vehicles it would be extremely difficult to provide this – even if the company had efficient checks to ensure drivers actually did take the training.

Also, there are far too many incidents reported (or not reported) each week to the Police, and this is worrying me.  An American journalist once told me “your City has the most incredible taxi service (referring to Black Cabs).  In no other country can I put my eight year old daughter into a cab and know she will be driven safely across the city to visit her grandmother.  You should cherish this”.

Personally, I am not happy with hiring someone who may be earning a low, low wage.  I am happy to pay that bit extra to ensure that someone who provides a service for me is receiving a living wage – and I really don’t see how Uber drivers can pay the rental on their cars, allow for down-time in between jobs, earn enough to pay for fuel – and get a living wage.  Zero hours contracts are not something I want to condone.

Uber naturally say they will challenge TfL’s ruling, but TfL concluded the ride-hailing app firm was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”. And said “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility which could have potential public safety and security implications”.  But since when do the great British public worry about ‘safety and security’?  Until there is an accident.

I had used Uber – twice – and was appalled at the way they operated.  Perhaps I can see what’s actually going on more than the average passenger, as I had served on the old GLC Transport Committee.  Phoning mates, such as senior Policemen, what they had to tell me was seriously bad – but for the general public Uber were cheap, customers wanted this – and didn’t ask why and how firms cut costs.

Yes, Uber say “Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.”  But actually these are people who were concerned with safety, and the little matter of paying Taxes.  But those wonderful Black Cabs (no-where else has such a unique corps) have to pay taxes, take a very long training and pay themselves for helpful wheelchair ramps and swivel seats; which mean passengers like me can easily get into a cab, when I couldn’t hoick myself into a car.  And, they have to keep their cabs clean otherwise the Police will have them off the road.

What our MP did

Some who are involved with hospital transport had contacted our local MP, the Minister for London, to express concerns.  I was sent a letter by the MP which stated “the proposal with Uber could be an interesting and innovative idea” . Judging by what has been written about Uber in the press, trips could certainly be ‘interesting’ – but don’t know if I would want them to be that ‘innovative’.  Our ‘revered MP’ was very pally with people with interests in Uber – when I raised the thorny matter of Uber applying to provide hospital transport, he sent me a letter which read like an Uber press release. I just wonder what he has to say now.

Sign the Petition https://www.change.org/p/minister-for-transport-9df9dceb-e98e-4b20-8560-1c5de2454450/u/21469111?utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_update&utm_campaign=146294&sfmc_tk=gvsDIL0PFht7jWptDPZfjVt3BnT9YvfHzvLLOwzeUComyZQmPIv%2f%2fFPQ%2f%2fou39nZ&j=146294&sfmc_sub=151853920&l=32_HTML&u=27732680&mid=7259882&jb=2

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