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A ‘thank you’ to 4×4 drivers and volunteers who supported the NHS through the adverse weather

[N]orth Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Stephen Eames would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of those who helped staff and patients over the recent adverse weather.

Stephen said: “I would like offer my most heartfelt thanks to all of the many people who volunteered to help our staff and patients during the incredibly difficult weather conditions over the last week.

“There are many stories of the heroism volunteers have displayed to ensure that staff could make it into the wards and patients could receive their vital treatment. Without our highly skilled and trained staff the hospital simply couldn’t function.”

The Trust called on North West 4×4 Response, a charity whose volunteers are 4×4 users who use their expertise and specialist vehicles to reach places an ordinary vehicle wouldn’t. With many communities cut off they were asked to bring staff to work at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

The group come from a variety of backgrounds – engineers, postmen, people in their retirement and a former anaesthetist from the Trust. At their peak a total of 15 drivers were out across Cumbria, all giving up their free time to help others. Their drivers went as far afield as Hexham and Scotland to collect consultants, doctors and nursing staff and bring them to the hospital.

Duncan Sanders, North West 4×4 Response area controller, said: “This is some of the worst snow we’ve ever seen in the county and it has been a very challenging week but all of our drivers have been fantastic.

“It’s nice to receive recognition for our work as many of the guys here have put in long hours and to know we’re making a difference to peoples’ lives makes it all worthwhile.”

Sally Tait and Jean Melville, peritoneal dialysis nurse specialists at the Trust, who were originally on a well-deserved weekend off but came in to work to help patients with their dialysis, put out a call on social media for someone to drive Sally to visit a patient for vital renal dialysis. Sally said: “The response from people was overwhelming. I had offers coming in from all over the county, people just wanting to help.

“I was collected in a 4×4 car and driven to Silloth to perform a patient’s daily dialysis, I just wouldn’t have been able to make it in my own car, and I just want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Paul who drove me and everyone who offered to help.”

Staff in the community were supported by a wide range of volunteers including local farmers escorting nurses on their tractors, Cumbria Health on Call and Local Mountain rescue teams.

Stephen added: “The strength of community spirit really is incredible. Thanks to the hard work and kindness of local people and volunteers we were able to reach the most vulnerable patients and ensure they received the care they needed.”

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