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Regional ambulance service for 'sickest babies and children' launched

A new ambulance service dedicated to transporting the region's sickest babies and children to specialist intensive care units has been launched to cover the East of England.
pandr-ambulance
Pictured (from left) are crew members Nathalie Sutton and Stewart Reid with Erin Thake, eight, her mum, ACT CEO Shelly Thake and (front) PaNDR service lead, Dr Sue Broster

The Acute Neonatal Transport Service (ANTS), which for many years transported pre-term mums and new-borns, now becomes the Paediatric and Neonatal Decision and Support Retrieval service (PaNDR).

The name has been changed to highlight that the service, based at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, now transports seriously ill children right up to 16 years old.

The aim is to ease pressure on the current paediatric transport provider, London’s Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS), between 11.30am and 9.30pm seven days a week. Outside of these hours, CATS will continue to assist in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The ambulances regularly transfer patients to Addenbrooke's as it has the region’s largest neonatal intensive care unit and only paediatric intensive care unit. This service will also repatriate patients to their local hospitals, once well enough.

To make the changes possible, PaNDR has invested in a new ambulance and driver from St John. A total of £216,000 was raised as funding for the new children's ambulance service by Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT). Of this, £92,897 was raised by the Chariots of Fire relay race in September 2019.

Specialist equipment has been purchased to ensure the ambulance is kitted out to support young patients of all heights and weights. This includes a defibrillator, monitors, pumps, oxygen and ventilators attached to a size adjustable trolley-bed where patients can be cared for by a dedicated paediatric consultant and nurse with backgrounds in intensive care.

The three existing neonatal ambulances that operate across the region are equipped with similar life-saving equipment, which is mounted under an incubator on wheels.

From April 7, the new ambulance will feature the PaNDR name and panda logo and staff will be dressed in dark blue uniforms with gold trim. Livery on the remaining three will be updated as the ambulances are replaced. 

Deputy medical director and PaNDR service lead, Dr Sue Broster said: "This is an excellent example of three ambulance services – PaNDR, St John and CATS – working together to give patients in this region the very best service possible.

"We also want to extend our thanks to ACT, which has been a constant and loyal supporter throughout the history of ANTS and again now it has made this important transition to PaNDR."

ACT chief executive Shelly Thake, added: "We are delighted to be able to support the new children’s ambulance service and would like to thank all those members of the public who have been so generous with their donations."

Anyone who wants to make a donation to ACT should visit www.helpyourhospital.co.uk/ambulance.