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Winter Discharge

Weather is one thing that none of us can control.

But when you are a non-emergency patient transport provider you have to prepare for and deal with whatever Mother Nature can throw at you.

Missing an appointment is inconvenient for patients, for some it may even affect treatment.

But for our patients who HAVE to travel, such as on the day discharges needed to maintain flow through hospitals, dialysis and GP urgent journeys, this situation becomes far more serious.

This is where our contingency planning comes into effect to work with our local NHS partners to ensure we preserve a safe and effective service for patients when road conditions are dangerous.

This includes rescheduling appointments where possible to minimise the impact on a patient’s treatment plan and make sure those patients who have been identified as needing to travel get to their point of care.

In January 2015 the UK was hit by severe snow storms – and nowhere was hit harder than Sheffield, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

Our crews in these areas were tasked with maintaining patient transport services in the most challenges of conditions but our planning and processes meant we were well prepared.

Michala Morton, Area Manager for Sheffield, said: “Many of our patients live out in the sticks, single track, unsurfaced roads with difficult access into the property. Throw in some snow and even collecting a patient and getting them into the vehicle can become a risk to both the patient and our staff.”

We have a number of measures we can take in adverse weather to ensure the continuation of our essential services. These form part of our extensive business continuity arrangements.

One of those measures is the ability to call upon additional 4x4 vehicles to supplement our existing fleet. 4x4 vehicles can be made available within four hours, seven days a week.

Michala added: “The weather conditions meant we couldn’t get the ambulances to some of our patients’ locations. We used smaller vehicles where possible and used our 4x4 vehicles to extract our patients and then transfer them to ambulances. Snow socks were also used to give our ambulances better traction.

““There was some extremely good teamwork. The PTS teams worked collaboratively with the hospital staff to get patients home.”

We have a number of policies on the processes to follow in adverse weather conditions.   The 4x4’s we use are car-derived 4x4 vehicles and our crews are given advanced driver training as part of their induction, assessment and forward monitoring. This includes the principles of driving in different conditions and the differing vehicles in our fleet.

Our contingency planning ensures that no matter what the weather we are able to put measures in place to ensure we maintain a safe and caring service for our patients.

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