SINGAPORE - Public healthcare institutions can now tap ComfortDelGro taxi drivers to deliver medicine to patients with pre-existing conditions who require regular top-ups.
ComfortDelGro Taxi said on Tuesday (June 2) that the drivers will need to undergo online training before they can start delivering medicine to patients' homes.
"They are to also ensure that all medication is transported in accordance to the temperature requirements," said the firm, which is the largest taxi operator here, with a fleet of about 10,000 taxis.
"They will also be taught to ensure that the parcels are kept away from direct sunlight, heat and moisture.
"Upon delivery, cabbies have to verify the identity of the recipient before signing off on behalf of the recipient to minimise contact."
This comes amid a surge in demand for medication delivery. The Health Ministry said that more than 43,500 deliveries were made from public healthcare institutions between April 1 and April 18, more than five times the 7,600 deliveries made in the month of January.
Deliveries usually cost between $4 and upwards of $20, depending on the volume and speed.
SingPost had also launched its medicine dispatch service in February, offering doorstep deliveries through its Speedpost courier arm.
The new ComfortDelGro is in partnership with Alps, a healthcare logistics firm set up by the National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and Singapore Health Services.
Delivery fees are charged by the distance travelled, with a starting fee of $6.50 for up to the first 3km.
The cabbies will keep all of the fee, which they will receive via credit into their bank accounts.
The public healthcare institutions will book the service via the ComfortDelivery platform, which currently has almost 2,000 drivers.
The expansion of the firm's delivery service comes after the Land Transport Authority extended the temporary liberalisation of restrictions on such services till end-September.
Taxi drivers and their private-hire counterparts have suffered a drastic drop in income due to the plunge in demand for point-to-point services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to combat it.
ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said the move to let cabbies deliver medicine will give drivers more options in the next three months.
ComfortDelGro cabbies interested to sign up for delivery jobs can write to comfortdelivery @ cdgtaxi.com.sg.
Taxi driver Jade Cho, 46, said she is looking forward to the additional option, having done multiple food deliveries.
"Although there are stricter guidelines for medication delivery, I am confident that I can easily switch between delivering food and medicine and fulfil each order," she said.
Ms Chan Soo Chung, executive director of the National Healthcare Group (NHG) Pharmacy, said more patients have been staying home and many have requested medication refills. NHG is currently waiving delivery fees amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Additional delivery options help ensure wider coverage of areas, ability to handle sudden surge in demand and timely deliveries to patients,” she said.
“Engaging taxis to fulfil medicine delivery is a very recent development that NHG is currently reviewing.”