More than 500 people needing urgent care in the East of England have been taken to hospital by taxi over the last three years.

Figures obtained by the BBC through the Freedom of Information Act showed the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) called taxis for 241 people in the financial year 2019/20, 31 in 2020/21 and 260 from 2021 to the end of January 2022.

All patients were needing urgent help after making contact with their GP, 111 or 999 for category 1 to 3 emergencies.

Category 1 calls are life threatening conditions, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, category 2 are serious conditions, including strokes and sepsis, and category 3 calls are urgent problems, such as uncomplicated diabetic issues.

EEAST said all C1 patients transported by taxi had already been seen by a paramedic at the scene.

Many argue such figures are representative of the ongoing pressures NHS ambulance trusts are facing.

Across England, Scotland and Wales, there were more than 24,000 journeys where a taxi was sent between April 2021 and the end of January 2022.

This showed more than a 23% increase on the previous year, with patients ranging from a three-day-old baby in Yorkshire to a 103-year-old in Wales.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “Like other ambulance services across the UK, we have a long-standing arrangement with taxi firms and third-party providers to support our services.

“A decision to use a taxi to convey a patient to hospital is made only once deemed safe and appropriate by a clinician and consent is gained by the patient – including on some occasions after an assessment by a paramedic on scene.

"An ambulance is always sent if there is any question about the suitability of using a taxi.

“For our patient transport services, Covid restrictions during the pandemic meant we were only able to convey one patient at a time which accounted for a significant proportion of the increase in spend.

"Following the relaxation of restrictions, we have also seen an increased demand for our services to transport patients to outpatient appointments.”