Summer 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Say Hello to ELFT’s Very Own Taxi Driver

WE love it when our staff think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions. Over the past couple of months, a small project group has been testing a different method of moving patients, staff and equipment around our East London patch.

As an Anchor Institution, we are increasingly thinking of innovative ways to work with our local communities and employ local people. We are also keen to continually improve the value for money of our services and identify areas where we could potentially reduce costs. This project has brought together those two Trust priorities in a fantastic way and with some great outcomes.

Light Bulb Moment

Recruiting a black cab driver to our Trust bank was the bright idea of Theresa Coates, Head of Administration for our Newham Mental Health Directorate. During the pandemic, black cab drivers have seen a significant reduction in the requirement across London for their services and have suffered a reduction in their income as a consequence. Theresa thought that recruiting a local black cab driver could not only provide that person with reliable employment during this challenging period but also had the potential to improve the Trust’s transport service and potentially reduce the overall taxi costs to the Trust.

Joining the Bank

We recruited our first black cab driver, Michael, to the Trust bank in the middle of June. Michael has been running journeys for us across East London for the past two months. He was initially just transporting staff and equipment but is now starting to pick up patient journeys.

Theresa said “Michael has proved invaluable since joining us on Bank. At the same time, Michael has learnt many new skills”.

Benefits

We’ve seen some surprising and really encouraging outcomes from this pilot already:

  • As a Trust member of staff, Michael understands and embodies our Trust values in a way that our contracted taxi firms never could.
  • He has built relationships with staff who undertake frequent journeys and is starting to build relationships with key patients also; this has improved the experience for staff and patients
  • The screen between the driver and passenger in a black cab has provided a safer transport method during the pandemic
  • Black cabs can accommodate wheelchairs and are easier to board for those with mobility issues
  • Our Digital Team have had to move around a lot of kit recently and Michael is managing all of this for them now. Black cabs are more spacious than other types of cars and can transport larger loads of equipment.

Some processes have become more efficient as a result of using our own driver and vehicle, e.g. Michael can drop a member of staff to a patient’s home to take blood samples, wait, drop the staff member to the phlebotomy clinic, then back to their work base, all wrapped up in one cost and time-efficient journey.

When compared with previous arrangements, we are saving approximately £300 per week!

We are now looking at rolling this out to other areas of the Trust.

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