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Helping people to visit loved ones in hospital

Wednesday, 11 February, 2015
Helping people to visit loved ones in hospital

People in the Hexham area are being reminded that help is at hand should they need to travel further afield to visit loved ones in hospital.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust runs a free daily car service for people without transport of their own to visit relatives who have been transferred from Hexham General Hospital to Wansbeck or North Tyneside hospitals for further treatment.

The service leaves Hexham hospital at 1pm every day and returns between 4.30pm and 5pm following visiting. Places, however, must be booked in advance by contacting switchboard on 0344 811 8111, extension 5388. 

In the future, the free daily service will also include return trips for relatives to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington after it opens in June.

Louise Fitzgibbon, matron in emergency care at Hexham General Hospital, said: “Whilst we always aim to provide as much care as we can as close to people’s homes as possible, there are always times when patients do need to be transferred to our other hospital sites for more specialist treatment.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do in the interests of patient safety and to ensure the best possible clinical care.

“Our free daily car service makes visiting just that little bit easier for relatives and as we cover one of the most rural parts of England we are passionate about doing all that we can for local patients and families.

“Thousands of people have made use of the service since it was introduced around eight years ago, however, we want to make sure that people are aware of it and know how to use it if the need arises.”

Gerry Smith and Derek Ryder are the two drivers who operate the relatives’ transport service on a daily basis.

Gerry said: “The service is a Godsend for people in the area. I know from speaking to people using the service that without it they would find it difficult to get to see their loved ones and make that all-important visit and we have had hundreds of cards and letters of thanks from relatives from all over the area.

“We are very proud to be able to provide this service for our patients, especially for those who live in more rural parts of the county.”

Once the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital opens, the service will also incorporate Cramlington and details of this will be made available nearer the time.

Northumbria Healthcare’s new model of emergency care has been has been endorsed by Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS in England.

All seriously ill and injured patients from across Northumberland and North Tyneside will be treated at the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital after it opens in June.

Once patients are stabilised following their emergency admission at Cramlington, they will be transferred to their local hospital for ongoing recovery and rehabilitation.

People will still be able to receive their planned care at their local hospital and those with less serious conditions will continue to receive urgent care at walk-in A&E services at the trust’s general hospitals at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck.