Nineteen months into his role as an Out of Hours driver for NHSGGC and former hackney driver Sandy Campbelton says he still loves it, having just completed his advanced driver training.
Sandy, 53, from Knightswood, is one of 95 drivers for the Out of Hours Service, ferrying patients from across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and further afield to-and-from appointments.
The Out of Hours transport services has been in place since well before the pandemic and provides a vital provision for many by providing safe, efficient and free transport for those who would otherwise be unable to get to their appointments.
Sandy has more than 15 years’ experience as a taxi driver, having driven a black hackney around Greater Glasgow and Clyde for most of his career but following the onset of COVID-19, work dried up and the opportunity arose to join the NHSGGC Out of Hours team. Sandy hasn’t looked back and estimates that since the pandemic started, he’s now supported up to around 2000 patients to get the care they need, out of hours.
Across NHSGGC, there is now a fleet of 18 Out of Hours vehicles, which includes cars and buses. Drivers are trained in infection prevention and control procedures to ensure patient safety and undertake advanced training to ensure they’re able to provide the safest and most comfortable journeys possible. On an average shift Sandy will transport around six patients per day – each job generally lasts around an hour at least, including both legs of the route.
Sandy spent a significant amount of time driving COVID-19 suspected patients to and from the Covid Assessment Centres and more latterly has been driving cancer patients to appointments at the Beatson, which can include round trips as far away as Ayrshire. In addition to providing vital transport, the drivers also play an important role in patient care, helping provide basic information and conversation to help relax patients ahead of their destination.
Commenting, Sandy said: “I’ve been a black hackney driver my whole career but work dried up at the outbreak of the pandemic and there was an opportunity to join the NHSGGC driving team.
“I’ve loved the job ever since joining. I’m helping patients get to where they need to be, and I’m meeting new people every day. It’s satisfying to be part of overall patient care and there’s a really strong team environment from the base at Cardonald.”
Mags Smith, Interim Service Manager the Out of Hours service, added: “Sandy is an asset to the team, and does a great job in making the patients feel comfortable. The Out of Hours driver service is crucial – there can be any number of reasons a patient isn’t able to get to their destination and the driving team is there to help. It can be a real life-line and helps ensure we’re able to respond to any one particular patient’s needs.”