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Ambulances refitted to cater for obese

  • 5 Comments

The increasing number of overweight patients has resulted in a revamp for ambulance fleets across the country.

Ambulances are to be fitted with wider stretchers and lifting gear, in a move that should ease the burden on staff.

According to data obtained by the BBC thanks to freedom of information requests, every ambulance service in the UK has started buying specialist equipment.

Heavy-duty wheelchairs, stretchers and lifting cushions are now stocked as standard in ambulances.

But many ambulance services in the UK have also invested in “bariatric” ambulances to ferry the most obese patients. These vehicles cost up to £90,000 each.

They are equipped with double-width trolley stretchers that can accommodate patients weighing up to 50 stone (318lb). They also contain hoists and inflatable lifting cushions.

Operations manager at the West Midlands ambulance trust, Nigel Wells, told the BBC: “It is all about safety for our patients and safety for our crews. We have got a greater number of patients who are larger in size.

“A few years ago - probably only 10 years ago - your average patient was 12 to 13 stone, now that’s probably 17 to 18 stone. And we quite regularly see patients around 30 stone in weight and even bigger than that.”

Every ambulance trust in England, as well as the services in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland confirmed changes were being made although the pace of the approach varied, according to the data.

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  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • Here we are , tightening our belts, how about the obese taking the same action.

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  • Hear hear!!

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  • It is very hard on the personnel who have to lift them.

    I once did a serîes of nights on night duty in a European hospital alone on a 20-bedded ward, 9 hour shift with no breaks apart from having snacks I brought with me to the ward, with a patient of well over 100 kilos and almost as wide as the bed who needed four hour turning. What do you do? She was on a normal mattress because none of the pressure area mattresses would have supported the weight and would have been totally ineffective. Those are the sort of shifts which make you not wish to turn up for work.

    (incidentally there was only ever one staff member, a qualified nurse, on duty at night without any hc asssitants. the ward was for 20 patients with room for an extra five in the corridors or sandwiched between other beds, when all the wards were full, especially in the winter).

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  • “A few years ago - probably only 10 years ago - your average patient was 12 to 13 stone, now that’s probably 17 to 18 stone. And we quite regularly see patients around 30 stone in weight and even bigger than that.”

    ...and this is the era of health promotion!!

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  • when one looks at what is on the shelves in the only supermarket in my town centre (pop. of around 67,000) one can understand why!

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