999 goes large for supersize patients

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A RISE in the number of obese people has forced the ambulance service to replace its older vehicles with larger ambulances.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) is steadily replacing its fleet of older vehicles, as they are taken out of service, with bigger ones better suited to a heavier population.

New front line ambulances, costing around £100,000, are now around £800 more than the older models.

They are fitted with a tail lift capable of lifting 500kg, 150kg more than the older ambulances.

At the end of March last year the service had 166 vehicles with a wider 500kg capacity tail-lift, out of a total fleet of 271.

The newer vehicles also allow a bariatric stretcher, especially suited to very obese people, to be loaded inside.

Ambulance staff have also won a prestigious prize for their innovative scheme to improve the service received by very obese patients.

Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) training manager Lewis Andrews, clinical general manager Tracy Nicholls and HART operative Dave Sexby have picked up the first prize of the Spotlight Award. The award is aimed at recognising projects that improve experiences for staff, patients and the public.

The winning trio devised a system for assessing very obese patients when out on call so ambulance staff can determine what equipment may be required when a patient arrives at hospital.

This could include manual handling equipment or specialist wheelchairs or beds

The Spotlight Award is funded by NHS partner organisation Health Enterprise East and the winning team has received £1,500 to help make their idea a reality.