Somewhere in the depths of North London, a young man falls over and injures his leg. He thinks it might be broken. He hobbles to the telephone and dials the number of his local taxi firm. Yes, that’s a real taxi, not one of our Big White ones. He then limps outside to wait for the taxi. Ten minutes later, it arrives, and he eases himself into the back seat.

“Where to?” asks the cab driver, starting the engine and pulling off. “North Middlesex Hospital, please,” says the man. “The A+E department. I think I’ve broken my leg!” “Oh my god!” says the taxi driver. “You can’t be getting in taxis with a broken leg. Hold on a minute!”


He drives to the firm’s headquarters and uses their phone to dial 999, explaining that he has a man with a broken leg in his taxi asking to be taken to the hospital. He gets through to me.

“Erm,” I said, hating to state the bleeding obvious. “He’s got a broken leg, and he’s in your taxi asking to be taken to the hospital. Why don’t you take him there? If we send an ambulance, we’re just going to have to take him out of the taxi, which will mean moving him around, and if someone has a broken bone you’re supposed to move them as little as possible.”

“Look mate!” said the taxi driver gruffly. “He’s got a broken leg, he’s ENTITLED to an ambulance! Stop trying to get out of sending him one!” “I’m quite happy to send an ambulance,” I said (this was a lie), “it’s just that if a patient with a broken leg in a car, it makes more sense and is better for the patient to drive him to the hospital”.

“Right!” said the taxi driver, and left the phone. In the background I could hear muffled voices and a young man cursing in pain. It sounded rather like he was being dragged out of the back of the taxi. The taxi driver returned.