England

East Midlands Ambulance buys vehicles to carry obese patients

The East Midlands Ambulance Service is to spend about £8m on ambulances capable of dealing with obese patients.

It currently has only a handful of vehicles capable of moving the largest patients in a 270-strong core fleet.

The trust said investing in 80 ambulances with larger stretchers, ramps, hoists and specialist chairs would cut delays and improve care.

But the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel said moving larger patients would still be a problem.

The new ambulances, which are currently being built, will be able to take patients weighing up to 50 stone (318kg).

'Physical strength'

The £100,000 vehicles are due to be phased in from next month.

Steve Farnsworth, fleet services general manager for the East Midlands Ambulance Service, said bariatric patients - those for who weight is an issue - had to be catered for.

"Research is that the population is getting bigger and we are trying to make these vehicles capable of taking a bariatric patient.

"So if the crews get to a location and find it is a larger patient, they don't have to call for the back up of a bariatric capable ambulance, and the patient can be conveyed in the first vehicle, which reduces delay and improves patient care."

Jonathan Fox, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, welcomed the move but said the vehicles were not the complete answer.

"Whatever the ring-fenced procedures that are put in place with these bariatric ambulances, they don't address the issues of managing heavy, unstable, unconscious patients.

"(You need) physical strength, sensible vision of how you get round stairs with people on bodyboards - and occasionally the fire brigade to assist."

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