Patient Transport Service
In order to meet the needs of our most vulnerable patients and transport people as safely as possible, our Patient Transport Service (PTS) made significant changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with national guidance.
Usual demand to take eligible patients to routine hospital appointments declined, but our efforts became focused on ensuring patients still had access to essential outpatient clinics and supporting hospitals with patient discharges whilst transporting only one patient in a vehicle at a time to ensure social distancing could be maintained.
Chris Dexter, Managing Director for PTS, said: "Since March, our frontline PTS staff have moved over 6,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients either to or from essential appointments such as dialysis or to discharge them from hospital to their own home or another point of care. The efforts of these staff and those supporting them has been overwhelming.
"As well as our frontline crews and patients wearing PPE, 240 of our vehicles were also fitted with temporary bulkheads to provide an additional layer of protection for our staff and patients. We are grateful to our volunteer community first responders who came in and supported the fitting of these alongside our fleet colleagues across the region.
"I would like to say a huge thank you to all our staff on the frontline, driving our PTS vehicles, answering our calls from patients or in the control room and all the staff who support what we do on a day-to-day basis. It's been overwhelmingly challenging but also a period which makes me hugely proud for everything we have achieved."
Staff experiences of COVID-19
Tom Simpson, an Ambulance Care Assistant based in York, said: "One memory that really stands out for me was when I went to collect a patient with Multiple Sclerosis, who was COVID-19 positive and had been in a critical condition, and they received a round of applause from ward staff as they were discharged. I’m proud to be part of a team which has responded during these unprecedented times and the attitude they have shown towards the procedures put in place."
James Shackelton, Ambulance Care Assistant based in Huddersfield, said: "It’s been rewarding to take patients home who have recovered from COVID-19 but I will always remember taking one lady home who had been admitted to hospital with her husband after they both started showing symptoms of COVID-19. The patient recovered from the virus and was discharged home but unfortunately, her husband passed away in hospital. That particular journey was emotional and is something I will always remember."
Perry LaFrenais and Sam Warburton, Ambulance Care Assistants based at Harrogate, said: "We both received extra training to enable us to deal with COVID-19 patients and did two days of training to act as a discharge crew for Harrogate's Nightingale Hospital. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to do our bit during a national crisis. It has been very rewarding to witness the joy people have shown when being discharged and to share some of the moments when they have met up with their loved ones."
Ann-Marie Kelly, PTS Specialist Patient Engagement Officer, was seconded as PTS Logistics Manager during the pandemic. She said: "As part of the PTS Logistics Management Team I have learnt new skills as we have changed a number of practices in response to the pandemic - we have successfully trialled home working of staff which has no impact on performance, operational crews or, most importantly, the patient experience."