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Voluntary In Service True Story; Confessions of a Hospital Volunteer Health Ambulance Car Driver; Nowhere Patient

Updated on August 31, 2011

Let Me Introduce You to VACS - Voluntary Ambulance Car Service

We use our own cars to transport vulnerable patients to their essential hospital appointments. We do not get paid for our time but are given a small expense to enable us to get our patient as to their destination. This service is the cheapest way to travel and I am happy to be of assistance.

Most patients that use this service live in a rural location. Our main hospitals are at least 25 miles from their homes. This makes it impossible for many patients to use public transport services. Some bus routes may only come once a day and people may have to make several changes to get to their destination. Many patients that I take may be blind, unable to walk properly and/or may have further physical and mental impairments. It is essential, therefore, that this service operates.

I like to do the extra bit for the patients that I help. I like to treat others the way that I wish to be treated myself. It is not our remit to phone patients. However, I like to introduce myself and let them know that I will be picking them up. This is helpful as I can confirm times, places and level of ability. This helps me estimate boarding times, particularly for those who need more time. People also worry that their transport might not turn up or be on time and they might miss their appointment, so I think this is important. Direct contact is offered should they feel concerned. Even more so when, as a driver, one has to ensure that other patients on the schedule have to be ‘done and dusted’ by the time the next patient is picked up and delivered to the next appointment. You can imagine that this can be touch and go when a previous patient over runs at their appointment.

They aim to convey patients safely and in comfort and escort them to the appropriate department on arrival at the treatment centre.
They aim to convey patients safely and in comfort and escort them to the appropriate department on arrival at the treatment centre.

“Oh, I have an appointment today? I don’t seem to remember having a letter.”

I had a busy schedule and timing was tight. I rang my lady and introduced myself, going through the details on my sheet.

“Oh, I have an appointment today? I don’t seem to remember having a letter.” A croaky, dithery, old voice said. I confirmed with her that she was the correct lady at the right address. “Well, it is a good job I called you!” I said and gratefully, she agreed.

I felt pleased with myself that I had done everything within my power to make things good for this patient. I made sure she had my telephone number, just in case I was running late.

Not an uncommon experience, my previous patient’s clinic was running late. When I dropped the patient off, I rang my lady to say I was on my way. When I arrived, she appeared very dithery. She needed help with getting ready which is never a problem, so I assisted her to speed up the process. I ushered her a little, but in a nice way. “Come on sweetheart, we can’t be late!” I reminded her, in an endearing way. She required a little guidance and managed to get in the car. We proceeded. “I’m going to take you a beautiful way to the hospital today.” I announced. I like to make journeys pleasant – some of the older people might not have been out for weeks, so I like to make it good for them. “Oooooh lovely, thank you!” We talked about the rolling hills, how beautiful the trees were and spots of interest. We laughed and spoke about everyone and everything.

Mrs Carefree was reminded by her daughter how forgetful she was.

We managed to get to the hospital on time. In I wheeled the lady to the clinic and booked her in. I gave the Receptionist my telephone number and asked for her to ring me when she was ready. I then disappeared to the local supermarket to get a coffee and read a little. 25 minutes, with coffee in hand, I received a telephone call.

“Hello?” I enquired. “Hi, is that the driver for Mrs Carefree?” The voice asked. I acknowledged this. “Well, your patient is ready for picking up.” “Oh great, thank you for being so quick!” I was delighted. This had helped me catch up on lost time. ”Only there was one other thing.” The Nurse said. “Oh?” I enquired. “The lady you brought in was the right name but wrong patient! It’s o.k. She is sitting here with tea and biscuits, quite happy!” This was a shock to me. “Whatever had happened?” I asked. Apparently, when transport had been booked, the Operator clicked on the right name but wrong address. This poor lady, confused, just went with the process, accepting the view that she had probably forgotten. She had even phoned her daughter up, whilst waiting for me, as she was sure that she hadn’t made an appointment. The daughter just told her that someone must have made it. She thought that a professional might have organised it. She further reminded her of how forgetful she was.

The Whole World is Wrong and You are Right!

So here we are. This poor unsuspecting older lady was dragged out of her home. Ushered into a car. Travelled for miles over the countryside and dispatched to a department that she had never seen before. Wheeled and left for an appointment that she had no knowledge of. The process and the people within it convinced her to doubt herself – she was often forgetting where things were, so she was accepting that could be wrong.

If you have heard of the adage, ‘the whole World is not wrong and you are right’, then you can see from this that there are some exceptions to disprove the rule!

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    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Also, we dont receive cash, so there is no hire and reward. We are specialist in our field and are given specialist training. We volunteer our time and vehicles to the NHS because the people we take can not afford taxis.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Dispondent Taxi Driver... the rules differ for voluntary drivers and the NHS. All drivers are CRB checked and given special permission on the insurance. The insurance has to be fully comprehensive and any public liability is covered on the NHS because I volunteer and am not a private hire car. I am NOT a taxi, I am a volunteer and do more for patients that just dump them at their destination. I hope this is clear to you and you have adjusted your thinking.

      Thanks for reading! x

    • profile image

      Despondent Taxi Driver 

      8 years ago

      I hope this person knows that what they are doing is illegal as his car will not be insured for private hire, he and his car will not be licensed, he probaly will not have gone through the appropriate CRB checks. It is fine until something goes wrong and then what redress will the patient have regarding public liability insurance should they be injured ????

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Zsuzsy Bee.. it is one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. It is amazing how people cope when they are not well and they hold that trust in you.

      Thanks for reading! x

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      When we lived up north I used to drive cancer patients to their chemo therapy in Toronto. It was hard, I had a terrible time when things didn't work out for them especially the children.

      My girlfriend who has been driving for almost 20 years still takes patients from her hometown to Toronto twice a week.

      What a great hub. Thanks for sharing.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy


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