NHS Tayside is paying for staff to take taxis to and from work, the Tele can reveal.
The practice has been going on since February 1 when patients and staff were transferred from the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital to Dundee’s Carseview following a shortage of doctors.
Workers previously based at Stracathro now have to travel to Carseview for their shifts, including people living in Montrose and Brechin.
When contacted by the Tele, three Dundee taxi firms quoted prices of £60 for journeys from Carseview to Montrose and £55 from Carseview to Brechin.
A friend of one staff member transferred to Carseview from Stracathro, who lives in Angus, said: “NHS Tayside is actually paying for taxis to ferry staff from their homes to Dundee and back again.
“I have the utmost respect for nurses and doctors and I appreciate everything they do. I just don’t think they should be chauffeured to work.”
Dundee-based Conservative MSP Bill Bowman said: “It’s only fair that certain staff, at certain times, are given support through travel remuneration.
“When budgets are so tight, you can’t help but feel this money would make a greater difference if directed elsewhere within the NHS.”
Robert Packham, chief officer of Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “In order to ensure safe and effective continuity of patient care, all 49 staff from the Mulberry ward transferred with their patients to Carseview when the contingency plan was invoked on February 1.
“Following detailed discussions with each member of staff and taking into account their individual circumstances, travel arrangements have been put in place to allow staff to fulfil their shifts in Carseview.
“Around half of the staff do not need transport to and from the Dundee centre. Of the remaining staff, the number who require taxi transport varies significantly on a day-to-day basis.
“It depends on the start and finish times of their shifts, annual leave and the individual circumstances of each member of staff.
“This travel plan was developed in partnership with the staff and their representatives.
“It allowed us to immediately provide support for the staff who are committed to caring for their patients but have to travel further to the Carseview Centre.
“The service management team is working to develop sustainable transport arrangements for as long as the contingency arrangements are in place.”