New recruits wanted to join army of volunteers

We're looking for ambulance car service drivers and porters to join our team of volunteers

The hunt is on for the next generation of ambulance volunteers to assist and make a difference to patients throughout the North East.

Every year, North East Ambulance Service’s army of volunteers provide an invaluable support to the Trust and its patients.

Today NEAS has launched a new campaign to find more gems out in the community, encouraging people to ‘feel good by doing good’ by volunteering as a hospital porter or an ambulance car service driver.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at North East Ambulance Service, visit http://bit.ly/neasvolunteers

Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at NEAS said: “Our porters and ambulance car service, like all of our volunteers, provide an invaluable service to our patients and enable us to concentrate our resources on patients who need us most.

“Our volunteers are aged between 17 and 70 and come from a variety of backgrounds, all with different reasons for volunteering at NEAS, whether it be wanting to help people in their local community, give something back to the NHS, gain experience in a healthcare environment or meet new people.

“Whatever your reason for joining us, we’d love to hear from you.”

Hospital porters are the first point of contact for a patient at hospital, greeting them at the door and escorting them to their appointment. They mainly meet patients who have arrived by transportation provided by the ambulance service, whether that’s from a scheduled care ambulance crew or via the voluntary Ambulance Car Service (ACS).

NEAS currently has 42 volunteer porters, volunteering at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the Freeman Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Wansbeck General Hospital and North Tyneside General Hospital. The Trust is also looking to expand into further hospitals, including North Tees Hospital, in the near future.

Last year, the Trust’s porters volunteered for an average of 5,652 hours, supporting 4,451 patients directly from the ambulance service, saving ambulance crews 507 hours in total and freeing them up to support further patients. They also supported a further 2,103 members of the public.

Having received treatment from the NHS, 34-year-old Mark Bennett is now a volunteer porter at North Tyneside. He said: “I was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and I have received a lot of help and support from the NHS. Volunteering is a way for me to give something back to the NHS.”

Laura Atkinson, aged 20, is a porter at RVI. She said: “I enjoy having the opportunity to give back to the community while being able to gain experience in a healthcare environment.”

ACS drivers provide a personal service to patients who are unable to make their own way to hospital, transporting them to and from hospital appointments in their own vehicles, and thereby enabling ambulance crews to transport patients who are unable to travel to hospital in a car.

Some patients who call 999 may require further treatment but do not require treatment whilst travelling to hospital and therefore do not require an emergency ambulance. Where appropriate, ACS may be dispatched to these types of patients to support the frontline and ensure emergency ambulances are available for patients in greater need.

Last year, ACS drivers volunteered 195,000 hours of their time, completing more than 148,000 patient journeys and clocking up 4,124,187 miles.

All volunteers are offered ongoing training to enhance their skills such as IT training, first aid, and the opportunity to observe with ambulance crews to gain invaluable experience and witness first-hand what goes on within the service. Although both roles are voluntary, porters are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses and ACS drivers are able to claim mileage expenses for transporting patients.

Jean Metcalfe, of Hexham, uses the ambulance car service to attend her appointments at Sunderland Hospital’s eye clinic. She said: “I can’t commend the service enough, the professionalism and care I have received from drivers has been amazing, the drivers will meet me in the waiting room, take my arm, guide me to the car and open the door for me. This treatment makes a difference and they have all gone the extra mile for me.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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