Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals confirm no more volunteer 4x4 drivers are needed

Staff at Gibbons Plant Hire, in Crowfield, used their machines to help clear snow from the A140. Pic

Staff at Gibbons Plant Hire, in Crowfield, used their machines to help clear snow from the A140. Picture: MIKE GIBBONS - Credit: Archant

Hospital leaders in Suffolk were “overwhelmed” by the community’s response to an appeal for volunteer 4x4 drivers to give staff lifts to work in the snow.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of the county’s clinical commissioning groups, made the plea on Thursday night and support for Ipswich and West Suffolk trusts came in thick and fast.

This week the region has been hit by a severe weather front nicknamed The Beast from the East that has brought snow and ice, shutting down travel networks.

This meant NHS staff in some rural areas of the county struggled to get to work due to the treacherous roads and railway lines.

Dr Garratt said: “Hospitals are under a lot of pressure, and putting on staffing that is adequate is absolutely crucial so anything we can do to get a full complement of staff is vital.”

CCG boss Dr Ed Garrett. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

CCG boss Dr Ed Garrett. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

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He hailed the work of NHS employees who were going above and beyond throughout the cold snap, likening their efforts to the Dunkirk rescue operation during the Second World War.

“They have been fantastic,” Dr Garrett said. “We have the best staff – not only in the hospitals but also the GPs, primary care and services. There is a real Dunkirk spirit and everyone is going the extra mile.”

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Ipswich Hospital had 55 offers from volunteer 4x4 drivers in the area; and West Suffolk Hospital had 31.

While staff across the trusts only needed to take up two lifts on Friday, there may be need to call on the support over the coming days if there is more heavy snowfall.

Ipswich Hospital wrote on Twitter: “Many thanks to everyone who has offered 4x4 support to us - the response has been overwhelming.”

Gibbons Plant Hire in Crowfield has also stepped up to the plate to help make Suffolk’s roads safe this week.

Ground workers Jason Garrard, Tim Betts and Andrew Cattermole have gone out in their JCBs clearing snow from the highway.

Mr Garrard has also helped to free up the roads at Ipswich Hospital to ensure patients and staff can travel there safely.

The workman have received a positive response from drivers.

“Everyone has been giving us the thumbs up and seem really happy,” Mr Garrard said.

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