North Devon’s health service keeps going as volunteers get staff to work

Ian Roome with NHS staff he ferried to and from North Devon District Hospital in a 4x4.
Ian Roome with NHS staff he ferried to and from North Devon District Hospital in a 4x4.

Volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles have been helping to get North Devon’s NHS staff to work as snow from Storm Emma blanketed the region.

The driving conditions which confronted volunteer driver Ian Roome on Thursday night as he took staff to work. The driving conditions which confronted volunteer driver Ian Roome on Thursday night as he took staff to work.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has put plans in place to support urgent and emergency services.

It has been co-ordinating 4x4 transport from a control room to get staff to and from work and to visit people who urgently need treatment in their homes.

Ian Roome is head of fundraising and volunteering with the hospital’s Over and Above charity and was among the volunteer drivers.

He was driving last night (Thursday) and has been out again today to ensure staff at North Devon District Hospital are able to get to work and get home again afterwards.

Snow conditions at Parracombe Snow conditions at Parracombe

He was loaned a 4x4 from Abbey Garage in Barnstaple free of charge.

Ian said: “Mullacott Cross was horrendous last night, absolutely thick with snow. My last drop was in Ilfracombe at 11.30pm and I was up again at 5am today doing the same.

“It’s great to see everyone pulling together to make sure NHS staff can get to work. I’ve always thought the community spirit in North Devon is amazing, and during this bad weather it has been as amazing as ever.”

All appointments for today (Friday)) have been cancelled, which includes outpatient appointments, day case surgery and endoscopy, and elective inpatient surgery. Patients have been contacted.

A 4x4 vehicle was loaned free of charge to the NHS by Abbey Road Garage in Barnstaple A 4x4 vehicle was loaned free of charge to the NHS by Abbey Road Garage in Barnstaple

Patients do not need to telephone – appointments will be automatically rebooked. If your new appointment is in the next two weeks you will receive a phone call, otherwise you will receive a new appointment letter.

A trust spokesperson said: “Our staff are working brilliantly and are going above and beyond to help us keep vital services running.

“We have had multiple offers of assistance from volunteer drivers across North Devon, and we are incredibly grateful for this – the community spirit has been absolutely phenomenal. Thank you.”

What health services are open?

Tyrrell Hospital MIU in Ilfracombe is OPEN TODAY (Friday, March 2).

Bideford and Lynton Minor Injuries Units are CLOSED TODAY (Friday). Services are planned to resume as normal tomorrow.

Wonford Walk-in Centre (WIC) in Exeter is OPEN TODAY (Friday) but is running reduced hours – open 8am-4pm.

Sidwell Street Walk-in Centre in Exeter is CLOSED TODAY (Friday) and will also be closed Saturday and Sunday. Service is planned to resume as normal on Monday.

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