St John Scotland has launched a new transport service to help dialysis patients across the Forth Valley.
The service, run by volunteers and provided free to patients, will help those living with chronic kidney disease who must undergo dialysis at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital three times a week.
The service began at the start of September, and has so far provided 36 patient journeys a week to patients who would otherwise rely on taxi transport to get to and from their treatment.
One patient who has benefited from the service already is 56-year-old David Grant from Brightons, who has been receiving dialysis treatment for 25 years. He said: “I used to drive myself to treatment but I had to stop a few months ago when my health took a turn for the worse, so the hospital were arranging taxis for me. Then the St John Scotland service started and it has been great. I have the same three drivers each week and they are all very friendly and reliable.
“Dialysis can be really draining, and the longer I’ve been getting it, the bigger effect it has on me. Some days you feel OK and some days you feel terrible. Having the friendly volunteers taking you in for treatment and home again afterwards really helps keep your spirits up.”
Jane Rodriguez is Clinical Nurse Manager at NHS Forth Valley said: "This is a brilliant service and one which is being very much appreciated by our patients. The fact that the volunteer phones the patient the night before to arrange the journey is a personal touch which makes the process a much more familiar one and takes the stress away from the patient. As only one or two regular drivers are assigned to a particular route it also means patients get to know their drivers."
The service runs six days a week, and sees a team of 13 St John Scotland volunteers use their own cars to provide door-to-door transport between a patient’s home and the hospital.
One of the volunteer drivers is Kirstin Horner, 45, from Bonnybridge. She said: “I have been on furlough since March, so when I saw the advert for volunteer drivers in the summer I thought ‘why not?’ I do two shifts a week, on a Wednesday and a Saturday. The patients I help are both really nice, we have a chat on the way to the hospital.
“My mum has not been well recently and there have been people who have done a lot to help her, so I just think this is something I can do to help other people when they need it. I have to bring my patients in for 8am, but I don’t mind getting up early! I’m hoping to go back to work at the end of October when furlough ends, but I still want to carry on with the early morning shifts to keep helping out if I can.”I’m hoping to go back to work at the end of October when furlough ends, but I still want to carry on with the early morning shifts to keep helping out if I can.”
The Forth Valley service is the latest to be launched by St John Scotland, who have been providing volunteer-run Patient Transport services in other parts of the country since the late 1990s.
Derek Watson, Chair of St John Scotland’s team of volunteers in Central area, covering Falkirk and Stirlingshire, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to start this service in Forth Valley for local patients. We want to thank the new volunteers who’ve joined us over the last few months to help coordinate the service, and all those who’ve come on board as drivers. As a charity we’re committed to helping people in our local area, and we hope this new service, alongside our work with communities to provide CPR training and Public Access Defibrillators, will help Forth Valley be a healthier and more resilient place to live.”