Hospital volunteer scheme reaches a milestone

WONDERFUL SERVICE: Patient Lol Shute and volunteer driver Mike Ranson
WONDERFUL SERVICE: Patient Lol Shute and volunteer driver Mike Ranson
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A VOLUNTEER scheme to help hospital patients has achieved a milestone.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust set up a driver scheme to help patients with difficulties getting to the hospital sites at Hartlepool and North Tees.

The nice thing about it is, you are helping others and talking to so many different people

The trust has a team of drivers it can call on from their homes to help patients - and they’ve just clocked up their 1,000th journey.

It comes to the aid of people who do not have their own car and can’t easily access public transport from their homes.

The team of drivers is also based in the outpatients unit at the University Hospital of North Tees from 1pm to 4pm every weekday to help at short notice.

Mike Ranson and Brian Williams are two of the trust’s drivers.

Mike said: “I thought it would be satisfying to be able to help people out in some way and I thought ‘I have a car, so why not volunteer to do this?’

“Though I am now retired, I still have a lot going on in my life but I am able to commit to helping every Tuesday.

“The nice thing about it is, you are helping others and talking to so many different people.”

Brian said: “I have given lifts to people from all walks of life and had lots of interesting conversations. You never know who you are going to meet from one journey to the next.

“I like being out on the road, it’s really satisfying to know we are helping.”

Lol Shute, 72, from Billingham, uses the service every day to travel to the University Hospital of North Tees for intravenous antibiotics to help with septic arthritis in his knee.

He said: “What these volunteers do is absolutely fantastic. I don’t know how I would cope without them.

“I need to be in hospital every day, including at weekends, to have my antibiotics.

“When I investigated how to get here I looked into getting taxis, but that was going to be very expensive. Then I heard about the volunteer drivers and found out I was eligible for help.

“It’s a really comfortable and pleasant way of getting to and from hospital.”

Reg Ramsden, who manages the volunteer driver service, said: “To reach 1,000 patient journeys shows how far the volunteer driver scheme has come.

“More and more patients are getting to know about the service and making use of it.”

To find out more visit the volunteer driver website HERE or call (01429) 522550 to book a driver.