THE work of a Cowdenbeath woman underlines the service a group of volunteers provides for dialysis patients in Fife.

The volunteers for St John Scotland’s Patient Transport service give up their own time to help local patients get to hospital for dialysis treatment.

Patients living with chronic kidney disease must attend dialysis treatment three times every week, often for years at a time, until they are able to receive a kidney transplant. Treatments take around three hours each time, and many patients face uncomfortable journeys and long waits for transport before and after treatments.

The St John's PTS held a special event to mark the work done by volunteers in Fife linking patients with the dialysis services at Dunfermline's Queen Margaret Hospital and Kirkcaldy's Victoria Hospital.

One of those recognised was Liz Beveridge, from Cowdenbeath, who volunteers as a driver with the Patient Transport service three mornings a week.

She said: “I get a sense that I am doing something worthwhile with my time, helping other people and ‘giving back’.

"NHS patient transport is great, but good as it is, I think the service St John Scotland provides can be a friendlier, quicker, more personal service for people who are carrying the burden of frequent regular visits to the hospital. I'm happy to make a small effort to make their lives just that bit easier.

“The event St John Scotland put on to show their appreciation for us drivers was lovely, and especially the fact that families were invited, recognising that spouses are totally involved in the volunteering effort.”

The 62 year old former civil servant, who has been volunteering with the service since March 2018, said she would encourage others to sign up: “I think anyone that thinks they might be able to volunteer should give it a go. It's a worthwhile way to spend some free time and you get the satisfaction of helping someone.”

The St John Scotland team say they are keen to hear from more Fifers who would be interested in volunteering as a Patient Transport driver. Anyone aged between 25 and 70 with a valid driving licence, who is keen to help patients in their community, is encouraged to get in touch.

The St John Scotland Patient Transport service launched in Fife in 2017 to help patients from across the Kingdom get to and from Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital, and in February 2018 expanded to serve the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Since its launch, the volunteers have contributed more than 5,600 hours of volunteer time and driven an astonishing 76,500 miles.

Drivers pick up patients from home as early as 5am to get to the first treatment of the day at 7am, using a dedicated fleet of cars so patients can travel in comfort. The service is provided free of charge, with volunteers giving up their own time to make sure people get to their regular appointments.

Speaking as she presented each of the volunteers with a certificate of thanks at the event, chair of St John Scotland in Fife, Lesley MacDonald, said: "The patients value the St John Scotland service so much, and our volunteers play an absolutely vital role in delivering it.

“As well as benefiting the patients, the service also alleviates the burden on the NHS and frees up hours and commitment from the Scottish Ambulance Service, who otherwise provide transport to patients.

“This event is our way of saying thank you to all our volunteer drivers for the selfless work they do to help others. And to thank the drivers’ families for their support to enable them to provide this invaluable service and help patients from across Fife.”

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