Hospital charity to provide free transport for discharged patients
PUBLISHED: 16:12 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:12 17 February 2020
A new volunteer transport service will give those about to leave a Norfolk hospital more support to be able to return home once discharged.
In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind hospital-run scheme, patients discharged from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Aylsham Discharge Suite who need its assistance will have the option of a volunteer-run transfer service.
The Volunteer Drivers scheme - funded by the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity - will run alongside existing non-emergency ambulance transfer services to provide an option for those who do not need an ambulance, but would otherwise struggle to get home due to illness, time or financial constraints, or who are simply facing a long wait for taxis, public transport or friends and relatives.
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The project is being funded at a cost of £115,000 for three years, which includes the lease of two Renault Trafic vans, which have been adapted to accommodate those who have mobility problems or disabilities, and pieces of equipment to be transported home.
Project manager and volunteer driver coordinator Jamie Goodman said: "Patients using the service will be taken home by drivers who are equipped to deal with any situation which may occur on the journey to the patient's home, have undergone DBS screening and a driving assessment by the Road Safety Team at Norfolk County Council.
"They will assist the patient into their home and, if necessary, can hand over to a volunteer from the Settle-in team who will help ease the patient back into their surroundings.
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"This could be putting the heating on, making a hot drink, ensuring there is food available in the house and helping to alleviate any fears the patient may have on returning home."
The scheme has been given the go-ahead after a successful trial last year, which found the service made a huge difference to those patients who would otherwise have faced lengthy waits for transport home.
Head of the charity's grants team Julie Cooper said: "It is fantastic to see donations to the Hospitals Charity being used to help our patients in this way.
"We know that leaving hospital can be a stressful experience for many and we hope that this service will go some way to removing some of the worries facing patients."