Meet Sandie…

Since December 2019, Sandie has been working for SCAS as the Hospital Liaison Officer based at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. She plays an important role in our Patient Transport Service in Surrey, providing a vital link across both Trusts to ensure the maximum safety and efficiency of flow for both patients and crews. On a daily basis, she oversees 130-150 patient journeys to and from the hospital sites.  These include the discharges and transfers from the emergency departments and wards, supporting the high footfall of time critical outpatient and treatment areas to the movement of patients across the community sites. All of which fall under the umbrella of the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust.
Woman in ambulance uniform standing outside hospital entrance

SCAS has been a big part of my world for the last seven years. I was introduced to the Trust by my brother-in-law, Pete, who was volunteering as a community first responder for SCAS. After successfully applying for a similar role and completing my training, I became part of the local CFR Team responding to emergency calls in my home village of Liphook and the surrounding area.

After about a year I applied for a paid position as an ambulance care assistant working for the Patient Transport Service, based at Camberley and from day one I absolutely loved it. I had initially seen this move as a stepping-stone into developing my career towards the emergency care sector, however, I was given the opportunity to provide temporary cover in the role of hospital liaison officer at Frimley Park Hospital.

After seven months, I realised that this was what I really wanted to do and in December 2019, I was delighted to be successfully appointed to the permanent role of hospital liaison officer for the SCAS Patient Transport Service, based within the Royal County Surrey Hospital in Guildford.

Just three months into my new post, the pace and dynamic of the role changed considerably, as the first of many waves of Covid arrived across the country which generated a whole new level of challenges.

“The patient transport service is a real lifeline for so many people, who perhaps can’t move without help or have limited mobility, or who don’t have the capacity to get themselves to vital medical appointments or treatments. No matter what challenges or unexpected events come up, and they do regularly, the focus is always ‘what is going to be best for the patient’. By then working with my PTS and hospital colleagues to achieve that outcome, I can go home every night knowing I’ve made a real difference to at least one patient every day, and usually many more.”

When patients began being admitted with this new Covid infection, and then staff becoming seriously ill with it too, it was a scary and unsettling time.  Having an office in the hospital, was one of the key factors to allow me to continue to work on site and be as effective as possible. PPE, general information and hospital transport pathways changed daily and it was important to be able to directly communicate and assist the crews by being present.

As a team we had to develop new ways of working so that extremely vulnerable patients with autoimmune deficiencies, such as those undertaking chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments, could still come into the hospitals and treatment centres. During this time, it became clear that we needed an on-site wash down and deep clean area to manage our vehicles.  I worked with the Hospital Estates Team to create and risk assess a dedicated area on-site, for PTS crews to clean down their vehicles and change their PPE after conveying each patient. This saved hundreds of hours in ‘crew down’ time as previously they had to return to their bases to achieve this.

The Royal Surrey became one of the first vaccination hubs in the UK. Working on site, I was given the opportunity to be vaccinated and became one of the first of the SCAS family to be given the Covid-19 vaccine. Working on site during the pandemic was extremely challenging with many highs and lows and an emotional roller coaster for many of us. Looking back, it almost seems surreal but I have achieved a huge level of learning and pride, wearing my greens alongside some truly exceptional teams.

A lady in ambulance uniform sitting on a Harley Davidson motorbike

Covid is still amongst us but in a lesser and more manageable state. I continue to enjoy the daily challenges, developing new initiatives that make it easier for patients, PTS crews and hospital staff to keep the flow of patient appointments moving as seamlessly as possible.

My day starts by working through the transport bookings for any obvious anomalies, followed by a handful of short, communication huddle meetings starting at 7am and then attending the hospital-wide bed meeting at 8:30am to exchange any information which helps identify any pressures that may then impact on the patient transport service scheduling for the day.

After those series of meetings, I’m usually out and about across the hospital dropping into various wards, departments and treatment centres to see what is happening and be available to deal with any issues or challenges as they arise. It’s a role where every day is genuinely different, and I absolutely love interacting with SCAS PTS crews and patients as they arrive or leave, as well as my colleagues in the hospital itself. In recognition, I was thrilled to be nominated and chosen to be one of five colleagues, invited to represent SCAS at the special service at Westminster Abbey held on 5 July 2023 to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS. What an amazing day with incredible memories.

So, aside from my world within SCAS, my decompression time and passion is riding my Harley. He provides me with the key to releasing my pressures at the end of the day when riding back from work and the freedom to travel, get lost and be sociable amongst like-minded people!

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New CFR vehicles at Thruxton

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