In Leeds we have benefitted from our own, bespoke palliative care ambulance since 2007 when work done with Marie Curie and their “Delivering Choice” programme highlighted the need for the service. Marie Curie generously gave us the first ambulance and Leeds had led the way in developing high quality transport for palliative care patients.

The ambulance provides flexible, prompt, safe and comfortable transport to patients moving to a place of their choice towards the end of life and to those needing palliative treatments and investigations. It has been equipped with palliative care patients in mind and is staffed by crews with extra training in palliative care support. For example, it can accommodate people on continuous oxygen, it can take a relative or carer with the patient and patients can use their own wheelchairs if the crew is notified in advance. The service has received excellent feedback from patients, families and staff. The only problem with the service to date has been its popularity – it is often fully booked.

We are therefore delighted to say that the Leeds’ commissioners have funded a second ambulance to run on weekdays, covering the busiest times. New crews have been recruited and trained by the education department at St Gemma’s Hospice. Training has also been provided by Martin House Children’s Hospice, as the ambulance can now transport people of any age with palliative care needs who have a Leeds GP.

We have been working with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and the Leeds hospices to improve the process for booking the ambulance, which is available seven days a week, including bank holidays. There is now a single contact number, 0300 330 0263, with no need to fax a booking form. In the unlikely event that it is not available or appropriate, an alternative will be offered without the need to ring another number. If you want to book it outside normal working hours, a message will be taken and passed on for the next day. Details on the operational policy and booking procedure can be found on Leeds Health Pathways and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals intranet site under Palliative Care.