Motorcycles used for mercy missions
Fifty motorbike enthusiasts have come together to courier blood to and from hospitals to cut the 25 million euro taxi bill run up by hospitals.
Blood Bike East has volunteered to take over the transfer of blood samples, emergency transfusion supplies, breast milk, drugs, x-rays, patient records and medical equipment.
Pat McCabe, chairman of Blood Bike East, said some of the current systems for transferring samples and supplies are either too expensive or antiquated.
"I've seen what it takes, and if we even manage to save 1% of the total that's about 250,000 euro, look at how many nurses we could employ, wards could reopen, imagine what could be done," he said.
Health Service Executive (HSE) chiefs, while welcoming the Blood Bike initiative, claimed that the use of taxis to deliver blood and other supplies would be "a very small percentage".
One taxi run to transfer blood from the haematology unit at St James' Hospital out of office hours to another hospital in Dublin costs a flat rate of 20 euro. Last Friday during the working day at least 77 supplies of blood were sent from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service at St James' to other hospitals and medical centres.
"Our idea is to keep the money in primary care, to save the HSE money and to keep the budgets within the hospitals," Mr McCabe said.
The HSE bill for using taxi services for everything from transferring patients and staff down to sending supplies and equipment last year fell by 1.5m euro to 24.8m - a reduction of 6%. Some 314,783 euro was billed to the HSE's corporate section.
The HSE east region is the most expensive with National Radio Cabs paid 1.8m for providing services to the HSE in the Dublin Mid Leinster and Northern areas while two other firms with big HSE contracts in and around the capital took the bill to 3m euro plus.
The new service mimics a scheme run by bike enthusiasts in the UK since the 1960s and another already in place in Galway. It will be launched next week with the support of Dublin's Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri and will begin on Friday April 5.