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They are an army of volunteers who have been driving thousands of miles to take patients to their hospital appointments

13th May 2019

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Established six years ago, the Volunteer Driver Service of North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust started with only eight drivers, the group is now run by 12 enthusiastic volunteers.

By March last year, they had made an impressive total of 1,191 journeys. Providing the service seven hours a day, five days per week, the volunteers work tirelessly to ensure patients get to their appointments on time, even if that means sometimes they have to start the day early. The volunteers also deliver medication to patients’ houses when needed and provide extra support for patients when they get home. Their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed; patients often send thank you cards as a way to express their appreciation.

In 2017, the team was shortlisted for the Trust’s “Shining Stars Awards” and scooped the award ‘Outstanding Contribution to Volunteering’, voted by staff.

Colin Ogden, 61, a volunteer driver, said: “I do three official two-and-a-half hour shifts a week to and from North Tees University Hospital and the University Hospital of Hartlepool. I also work on an ad hoc basis when needed.

“It isn’t simply the drive to and from hospital that’s important.

“I’m convinced that if a patient’s day begins with a smiling driver and friendly chat, their hospital experience will be more positive.”