Hartlepool NHS workers offered rock star luxury as band tour buses used by the likes of Sam Fender, Peter Kay and Biffy Clyro offered up as rest areas and accommodation at hospital
The entire fleet of luxury sleeper buses, run by Oxford firm Vans for Bands, has been offered to the NHS for frontline staff who are fighting the coronavirus.
And the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in the region to take up the offer.
The vehicle will be housed on site as an alternative accommodation for clinicians who are looking for a convenient place to stay at the end of their shift.
Trust chiefs say it is ideal for staff wanting somewhere to relax after a break, or for workers who would otherwise face a long commute to work.
Celebrities who have used the buses include Paul Weller, Alice Cooper, Elbow, Biffy Clyro, Will Smith, and Primal Scream.
So has Sam Fender, Libertines, Massive Attack, Leftfield, Blossoms, Ricky Gervais, Peter Kay and Conor McGregor.
Doctors, nurses and other key staff will be offered exclusive 24-hour access to sleep and relax in the sumptuous surroundings, usually only experienced by rock stars, whilst still observing the two-metre social distancing rule.
The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge and Whittington Health NHS Trust in north London have also taken advantage of the offer with sleeper buses already parked up on site, with Lewisham Hospital in south London following close behind.
Vans For Bands who are subsidising the project have launched a JustGiving page (www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vans-for-bands) to help facilitate their offer.
The aim of crowdfunding in this way is to cover only the costs of keeping the fleet on site at the hospitals. This is a non-profit making scheme.
Ed Thomson, director and co-owner of Vans For Bands, said: “The social gathering restrictions brought about by COVID-19 have completely decimated the live music industry resulting in our entire fleet being off hire and returned to our yard.
“We are very happy to be able to offer our tour buses to NHS hospitals anywhere in the UK for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis as a place for doctors, nurses and support staff to take a rest or sleep in at the end of or during their extended shifts. We feel it’s only right that we all do everything we can to support our NHS.”
The unprecedented move has been supported by musician Frank Turner and comedian and writer Adam Kay,
Adam said: "In these bleak days, it's been truly heartwarming to see such an outpouring of love for the NHS. This is a wonderful example of a business stepping up to support frontline staff - I know so many doctors and nurses who have been struggling to find accommodation or somewhere to relax during their shift breaks and this will make a huge difference."
Frank Turner said: “I'm happy and proud to see my friends at Vans For Bands putting their fleet to good use in this trying time. I have spent years of my life sleeping on these buses all around the UK and Europe; now they can be used to help the amazing frontline NHS staff during the crisis, who are working hard and taking risks for us all.”
A spokesperson for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “As a leading healthcare provider, we absolutely embrace innovation and new ways of working, now more than ever.
“When Vans For Bands got in touch to offer this alternative accommodation for our hard working staff, we jumped at the chance. Some of our staff have a really long commute and we want to ease the burden where ever we can, especially in the current circumstances. A big thanks to Vans For Bands for making this happen!”
A spokesperson for NTH Solutions, the Trust’s provider of estates and facilities services, said: "The luxury sleeper bus is in very safe hands with our security and cleaning teams. Working closely with Vans for Bands we’ll be making sure that it’s always on point so that our hardworking staff can fully relax and recharge.”