A hospital trust paid more than £168,000 to cover taxi journeys for patients and staff over two years.

Runcorn resident Darrin Whyte submitted a Freedom of Information request to Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust asking for the cost of taxis for patients over 2017-18 and 2018-19.

It confirmed that the figure totalled £95,070 in 2017-18 and £73,419 in 2018-19 –  a total of £168,489.

The trust says contracted taxi use forms part of its transport services across its sites and is used in conjunction with the non-emergency patient transport service, cross-site shuttle bus and external courier contract.

It said the taxi companies used are Abba and Apec.

A spokeswoman added: “Contract taxis are only used for essential official trust business, such as patient discharge when non-emergency patient transport is not available and would cause a delay in the patient’s discharge, to transport staff to undertake patient/therapy home environmental assessments and out-of-hours transport of urgent goods/items and pathology specimens.

“The trust does not provide taxis for patients to attend their appointments.

“The hospital travel costs scheme provides financial assistance to those patients who require assistance to meet the cost of travel to and from their care.

“These patients must organise their own transport and, if in receipt of an appropriate benefit, may reclaim their expenses from the hospital.”

The taxi journeys include transport to deliver treatment at patients’ homes within the trust’s catchment area, which comprises Runcorn to Warrington Hospital, Runcorn Hospital to Widnes, Widnes to Warrington Hospital, Warrington Hospital to Runcorn, Widnes to Warrington Hospital, Warrington hospital to Widnes, Warrington to Warrington Hospital and Warrington Hospital to Warrington.

However, it could also include urgent matters to specialist hospitals in Liverpool.