Designing ambulances for the future

Patients of North East Ambulance Service are helping to contribute to the design of the services fleet of ambulances in future.

A group of 14 people came together recently with the services fleet and operations teams to look at the needs of different patient groups and make recommendations on how the experience of people with a variety of needs could be improved if some changes are made. 

Representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society, Catalyst Stockton Health Ambassadors, Sight Service, Newcastle Disability Forum, Dialysis Patient Group (Sunderland) and Newcastle Hospitals Patient Engagement Group were amongst the group to tour the vehicles and consider the design for people with different conditions, such as dementia or visual impairments. 

Chair Dog
Chair back Barry

North East Ambulance Service’s fleet of 600 vehicles cover over 14 million miles per year, transporting thousands of patients to and from hospital for emergencies as well as scheduled appointments.

Barry Dews, head of operations at NEAS, said, “Fitting the design of our vehicles around patients’ needs can be difficult when we are designing a vehicle that needs to work for everyone.  There is a national specification for ambulance design, which the group can feed into as well as a local specification, which this group can help to influence.

“Ensuring our vehicles meet our patients’ needs now and in the future is a priority for us and we know that patients feel this is really important.  These sessions will help us to better understand how we might improve vehicles in the future.”

Carer, Henry Rhodes, said, “I now know just how much thought goes into providing the safest and effective consideration for patient experience.”

Julie Walker from Hillcare, added, “It’s been fantastic to see NEAS going out listening to find out what people need, especially people who have dementia.”

Mike Ward from Newcastle Disability Forum, explained, “It’s been really good to see what the vehicles are like on the inside and how much better they will be following the consultation sessions.”

The group will meet again soon to review a range of options and on how their feedback might influence future changes to the fleet.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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