NHS Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG - the bodies responsible for local healthcare services - have requested support from SFRS to carry out non-emergency patient transfers for up to eight weeks.

Three drivers from the Fire Service will be working alongside Falck, a non-emergency patient transport service which already provides support for patients who have a medical condition - for example needing dialysis and will help to enhance capacity levels for non-emergency patient transport. This support in turn, helps free up hospital staff for COVID-19 duties.

Shropshire Fire’s COVID-19 response manager, Tom Hatfield said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the fire service as it’s the first time we’ve supported NHS partners in this way and will hopefully pave the way for more collaborative working in the future.

“It shows how agile the Service is and demonstrates the many skills our staff have that can be used and adapted to add value to our partners while still fulfilling our primary cause to make Shropshire safer.”

Joint Accountable Officer for NHS Shropshire and NHS Telford and Wrekin CCGs, David Evans, said: “The Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service provides an extremely important support for patients and we’re pleased to be collaborating with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service who are enhancing current capacity levels across the county. The agreement provides a much-needed additional resource to support transporting patients to and from hospital appointments.”

The transport service is totally separate from the emergency ambulance service and is not provided to people who simply require transport for social or financial reasons, or for those who are able to travel on public transport or by other means to get to their healthcare provider.

Chief Fire Officer, Rod Hammerton said: “I really wanted to say ‘thank you’ to all the staff involved with supporting the COVID-19 response.

“We have around 200 people that have been redeployed supporting centres across the county with marshalling duties, administering vaccinations, and providing mental health support to partners giving reassurance to so many people in our community and this is another role we are delighted to be providing support for.”