In the right direction

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A NEW volunteer driver scheme at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has already come in for praise from patients.

Recently the trust recruited a team of volunteers who are available to drive patients to and from appointments.

The scheme has been set up to help people who have difficulty getting to either of the trust’s two hospital sites for scheduled appointments they have.

All drivers have received training, uniforms, ID badges and have undergone a check with Disclosure and Barring Service (formally CRB).

Allan Mains, from Wheatley Hill, is one of the drivers whose names has already been mentioned by patients in feedback given to the trust.

Part of the feedback, from a carers’ group in Hartlepool, said: “We found the service very easy to book for our carer. We gave the travel needs of a carer and cared for person who needed to go to the University Hospital of North Tees for a dental appointment late one afternoon.

“They informed us of the driver’s name, time of the driver’s arrival and explained that the driver would wait until the end of the appointment and return the carer and cared for person home again.

“The carer said his experience was ‘spot on’. Allan arrived a little early to make sure we got there on time. He waited in a designated waiting room when we had the appointment and took us back home. We got home by 6pm.”

Father-of-three and grandfather-of-five Allan, 61, is an electrical engineer who, along with wife Susan, 59, who was a carer for 10 years, has always been a helpful person.

He said: “My job has always been about interacting with people and helping people when they need a job doing.

“To be a good engineer you have to be reliable, logical and have good people skills.

“My wife is the same – we have both always liked to help people, whether they are neighbours, friends or people we don’t know.

“I seem to have had positive feedback from the patients I have met here. I think that’s basically because I am friendly and I always make sure I get them to their appointment with plenty of time to spare.”

Reg Ramsden, who works in the trust’s estates department and who manages the volunteer driver scheme, said: “I am very pleased with the team of drivers we have recruited.

“The feedback from patients has been very positive – which isn’t a surprise at all, but is still very pleasing nonetheless.

“We want to make sure that patients and carers know that the service is available to them and that we have drivers who are on standby to take people to their hospital appointments.

“They provide a very professional service for us and we want to ensure that patients who need transport make use of this service.”

The trust’s volunteer driver scheme can be contacted on (01429) 522550.