Making a difference to dialysis

North East Ambulance Service has entered the final year of a three year contract to deliver a dedicated transport service to dialysis patients for five Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Clinical Commissioning Groups in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, North Durham and Durham Darlington Easington and Sedgefield appointed the contract to NEAS in July 2013.

The service is provided by 30 dedicated employees, including six volunteer drivers, with nine wheelchair friendly vehicles, two of which are double crewed and seven of which are single crewed every day.

Across each year they are responsible for transporting approximately 25,000 patients to and from dialysis appointments, many of whom are wheelchair users. They complete around 50,700 journeys to one of three units at City Hospitals Sunderland, Durham Hospital and Washington Primary Care Centre.

Patient Transport Service Business Manager, Claire Mills, said: “The majority of renal patients have a lifelong need to attend hospital for dialysis, going along at least three times a week for between 3-5 hours each time.

“Research into the impact of treatment on patients has highlighted just how important reliable transport is – in particular it can improve their attendance to renal treatment centres because it reduces the interruption of treatment on their personal time and subsequently improve their quality of life.”

The trust makes regular use of feedback from patients, hospital and ambulance staff to ensure the service continues to improve and cater flexibly for changes in demand.

Olive Gair, who has been going to Sunderland for dialysis for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Sunderland for four years, said: “The service is very good, the crews are excellent. You couldn't wish for better ambulance drivers. They are very willing and will help you with anything - they've all been handpicked....First Class!!”

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