Whilst traveling in someone’s car who had the radio tuned to Spectrum FM, I heard the following snippet of wisdom which went something like this:
Spectrum FM top tip: Taxis are obliged to take emergency cases to hospital for free.
Whaaaaaat? No they’re not.
Leaving the obvious fact that who is to decide which is an “emergency case” and which is just a standard paid-for trip to the hospital (do you have to submit your emergency case report back to the taxi driver? No look sir, I’m bleeding! Yeah, but it ain’t a fatal stabbing so pay up or I’ll give you a reason for going to the emergency room, buddy) we already have free transport to hospitals, namely ambulances. Plus, free transport back home again if you can’t get there under your own steam. It’s a handy little service called the Servicio de Salud de [insert region’s name here] . 061 on your speed-dial.
The best bet I can think of is that they’re thinking of a Franco era-law (before ambulances) under which taxi drivers had a duty of care to transport the ill and dying to hospital free, although nobody seems to be able to remember how this works, or indeed if it ever did. Something about a doctor could commandeer a taxi or even a private vehicle in medical emergency cases.
Certainly no taxi driver I asked (¡Paco! ¡Ven pa’ ka!) seemed to know anything about this, and seemed mildly amused at the thought of ferrying people around for free.
Mind you, any driver still has the obligation to stop at a traffic accident and, if necessary, provide help. You can be done if you keep on driving past, you know. (Not if 350 people are already there, of course).
A separate issue is that the medical service of your region may have decided to use taxis to ferry certain patients around. Madrid health service, for example, has signed an agreement with about 1,500 taxi drivers in the region to drive patients entitled to free transport home, thus freeing up ambulances to more important duties. But -and this is important- it’s the hospital who gets you the taxi, you don’t just flag one down and say hospital, por favor.
So no, no idea where Spectrum FM is coming from on this.
Interestingly enough, if you are lovers of the Financial section on Spectrum (with your financial advisor Nigel Goldman!) you may be interested in this forum posting.
Of course, with the cutbacks, this could well be a good idea for the future (if it weren’t designed to bankrupt the taxi drivers).