Bariatric Specialist Service

Our Bariatric Service is designed to provide a safe and dignified transport solution to those whose weight, or condition require specialist transport.

The ambulances mirror Accident & Emergency type layouts with additional equipment, including an extra wide ramp capable of lifting and conveying 600kg utilising hospital beds up to 3ft 6inches wide. A 1 ton electric winch assists in the loading and unloading of beds; inbuilt 12v & 240v mains power, the vehicles in-built 1,000 watt mains inverter ensures all battery powered equipment is ready for immediate use. Either a Ferno Megasus bariatric cot which is expandable to 39 inches wide, or a Stryker Power-Pro TL stretcher which can carry patients upto 50 stones are used throughout our Bariatric fleet.

The Ambulance Support Unit is unique within the ambulance sector, and has been developed entirely out of necessity. It encompasses the experience we have gained over the years from conveying Bariatric patients, advice from hospital back-care specialists and other health care professionals.


The equipment carried assists staff in the safe moving and transportation of the patient; in addition the Support Unit has a crew-cab configuration, allowing for an additional six members of staff to accompany the patient. Available equipment is an ARJO Easytrack hoist, folding aluminium ramps, AAT c-max U2 electric stairclimber, Mangar Camel & Mangar ELK lifting cushions, Quintal Q2 Motility transfer board and heavy duty patient turner, slide sheets & moving aids, and portable lighting.


The Ambulance Support Unit is based on the LDV Maxis 3.5 MPT body; the Bariatric Ambulances are based on the Citroen Relay L4 body, which was specifically imported in to the UK for UK Specialist, and both built to our own exacting specifications.


UK Specialist Ambulance Service originally started providing a bariatric service in 2002, and in 2004 we were presented with the Ambulance Service Institute Innovations Award for our ground breaking initiative in this area. Starting originally with two custom built ambulances within our fleet, in 2008 we decided to invest an additional £250,000 to expand our service capability to four Bariatric Ambulances and one Ambulance Support Unit, with a further two ambulances having been bought in 2009.


With the new vehicles now in service, the two original ambulances have been sent to Stamford Coach Works in Essex, to undergo a complete refurbishment to ensure their continued use, they now incorporate the latest in 12 lead ECG monitoring.


Mike Swanepoel who is the bariatric lead for UK Specialist says “It is estimated that by the year 2012 there will be a 40% increase in overweight and obese patients, and we need to be prepared for the increase in associated work. It is often the case that the first time the health service know about an obese patient is when a 999 call is made for assistance. Most ambulance services are not fully equipped to deal with the removal and transportation of bariatrics, and this is where we can get called to assist.”


UK Specialist Ambulance Service has already provided bariatric assistance to the London Ambulance Service, East of England Ambulance Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, and as far a field as the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust and Somerset. UK Specialist Ambulance Service provide Bariatric transport for The Whittington Hospital in North London, who has recently been accredited as a Bariatric Centre of Excellence.


All of the Emergency Medical Technicians working on these units are given additional training. This includes understanding bariatric needs, CPR training on a bariatric manikin, manual handling of the obese patient, risk assessments, and training on all equipment used.


Update and refresher training is undertaken on a regular basis, and staff also attend multi-service scenario training days; working along side NHS ambulance services, Primary Care Trusts, Fire Brigade, and back care specialists.

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