Obesity prompts ambulance upgrades
Posted Fri, 04 Feb 2011
Ambulance fleets across the country are being revamped with wider stretchers and lifting gear to cope with the increasing number of fat patients, it has been reported.
Every ambulance service in the UK has started buying the specialist equipment, according to data obtained by the BBC from freedom of information requests.
Standard ambulances are being stocked with heavy-duty wheelchairs, stretchers and lifting cushions.
But many services have also bought "bariatric" ambulances, costing up to £90,000 each, to ferry the most obese.
The specialist ambulances are equipped with double-width trolley stretchers to accommodate patients weighing up to 50 stone (318lb) and also tend to include hoists and inflatable lifting cushions.
Cushions cost about £2,500 and stretchers between £7,000 to £10,000 while reinforcing an ambulance tail-lift costs about £800 per vehicle, the BBC said.
South Central ambulance trust has spent more than £1 million in the last three years to upgrade nearly two thirds of its 180-strong fleet, it was reported.
West Midlands has also bought four specialist bariatric ambulances at a combined cost of more than £300,000.
Jo Webber, director of the Ambulance Service Network, said: "The fact is patients are getting larger and larger and ambulances need to be able to respond immediately to what could be life-threatening situations.
Copyright © Press Association 2011