The Volunteer Drivers scheme is funded by the N&N Hospitals Charity and is available to patients who are discharged via the hospital’s Aylsham Discharge Suite provided they are relatively mobile and able to transfer from a wheelchair to the car.
It is believed to be among the first hospital-run schemes of its kind in the country.
It runs alongside existing non-emergency ambulance transfer services to provide an option for patients who do not need an ambulance, but would otherwise struggle to get home due to illness, time or financial constraints or are simply facing a long wait for taxis, public transport or friends and relatives.
Volunteer Driver Coordinator Jamie Goodman, who will manage the project, said: “Patients using the service will be taken home by drivers who are equipped to deal with any situation which may occur on the journey to the patient’s home, have undergone DBS screening and a driving assessment by the Road Safety Team at Norfolk County Council.
“They will assist the patient into their home and, if necessary, can hand over to a volunteer from the Settle-in team who will help ease the patient back into their surroundings.
“This could be putting the heating on, making a hot drink, ensuring there is food available in the house and helping to alleviate any fears the patient may have on returning home.”
The N&N Hospitals Charity is funding the project at a cost of £115,000 for three years and includes the lease of two Renault Trafic vehicles which have been adapted to assist patients who may have mobility problems, disabilities and pieces of equipment to be transported home.