Volunteer drivers scheme marks first year

A volunteer driver scheme has travelled more than 40,000 miles and helped thousands of patients in its first year.

The transport service has helped more than 300 patients get back home, delivered vital medical supplies to patients’ homes and ferried chemotherapy treatments to a relocated cancer unit.

The Volunteer Drivers scheme, which received £115,000 from the N&N Hospitals Charity, was launched in February 2020 as the first of its kind in the country to help transport patients home and to help get them settled in after a hospital stay.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has only been able to run as a full patient transport service for three months of the year, transporting 338 patients. Ten volunteers have also been trained to help run the service, which has two Renault Trafic vehicles that have been adapted to assist patients who may have mobility issues.

However, during the first national lockdown, the service was redesigned and carried out almost 600 runs between NNUH and Spire Norwich to safely deliver chemotherapy treatments to the relocated Weybourne Day Unit, which was treating 60 patients a day.

During the pandemic, the vehicles have also been used to support the delivery of medications to vulnerable and shielding patients across Norfolk and Waveney. 

Charlotte Evans, Community and Settle In Service Volunteer Co-ordinator at NNUH, said she was proud of how the service had adapted during the pandemic and the Trust was looking for more volunteers to come forward to help patients to settle home after a stay in hospital.

“It has been an incredibly difficult time to launch a new service such as this but it has been proved that the service can be adaptable to support the Trust and our patients in different ways and can react very quickly to an ever changing environment.  Volunteer Driver Co-Ordinator Jamie Goodman has been paramount in forging good working relationships with internal departments, third party organisations and the private sector.”

Julie Cooper, Head of the Charity’s Grants Team said: “We are very proud to be working in partnership with the NNUH Voluntary Services Team and their incredible volunteers. The ways that they have adapted this vital service during the pandemic have really made sure that the region’s patients have continued to benefit from the funding provided by their local NHS charity.”

To find out more about the N&N Hospitals Charity and how you can help, visit our website www.nnuhcharity.org.uk

If you would like some more information about the Volunteer Driver service or to get involved with the Volunteer team, email volunteers@nnuh.nhs.uk