HSE expenditure on taxis in the South – South West region has ballooned to almost €3 million.
The figure has more than tripled between 2012 and 2017, rising from around €800,000 to just under €2.7 million.
Nationally the figure spent on taxis by the HSE peaked at over €12 million in 2017.
The South – South West region, of which South Tipp General is a component, saw the second highest expenditure on taxis, accounting for €2.7 million, a rise of almost €2 million in just 5 years.
University Limerick Hospital Group, which provides emergency department cover for North Tipp, saw a 50% increase in the amount spent on taxis in the same period, rising from €1.2 million in 2012 to €1.8 million in 2017.
The HSE says it is more cost effective to use taxi services rather than run its own fleet, namely for transporting patients deemed not acutely ill.
However, at times, taxis would also be used for the transfer of patient charts or files between hospitals.
Tipperary TD and Labour Spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly, felt that such an increase in taxi expenses warranted the introduction of an intermediate care fleet to save the tax payer money.
Deputy Kelly expressed his frustration that the lack of such a fleet was a symptom of the overall malaise affecting the Health Service Executive.
He felt that there was a worry that people were missing out on optimum care through backlogs caused by the lack of intermediate vehicles.