On Thursday 30th March, Dr Paul Crawshaw, Neonatal Consultant at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals and Tony Martinez, Crew Member for the special South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) neonatal transfer ambulance, will set off on an epic 360 mile cycle, over four days, to raise money for the Little Roo Neonatal Fund.
Dr Crawshaw explains: “Whilst many hospitals provide special care facilities for babies, there are fewer Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the country – for example, the unit at St. Peter’s Hospital is the only one in Surrey. We provide the highest level of care for very sick or premature babies and link with other baby units in the region; particularly through the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Neonatal Transfer Service – which is a specialist ambulance service to transfer babies in an incubator between hospitals.”
The Neonatal Transfer Service has three teams, based at Chertsey ambulance station (near St. Peter’s), Medway and Brighton. Each team has a doctor, senior nurse and ambulance crew on call, ready to transfer babies from any hospital in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex area to a NICU. Tony Martinez explains: “I think this is a unique and special job. You are meeting families at one of the most emotional times of their lives, having just had a baby yet coping with the news their newborn is very unwell and needs to be moved to a specialist intensive care unit. It’s an awful lot for parents to take in and process.”
The ambulance itself has a unique design, with space for a full incubator and all the kit needed to transfer babies safely, along with seats for the accompanying nurse and doctor. Tony adds:
“People who are not familiar with the neonatal ambulance always comment on the amount of equipment needed to transfer such tiny babies. All of the machines and kit around the incubator can seem quite staggering and it’s very expensive to provide it all. For example, a simple set of single use nasal prongs, accompanying connectors and fastening hat to deliver oxygen to the babies costs around £50. With around 200 babies transferred each year between hospitals in the region it’s easy to see how it all adds up.”
Raising money for the Little Roo Neonatal Fund, which will support the purchase of new equipment for the transport service, is Paul and Tony’s motivation. “The transport team do an exceptional job”, says Paul, “and when Tony suggested this challenge I was really keen to support him and this great service. The route we are cycling over the four days will visit every hospital in the region that they collect babies from.”
The duo will begin their cycling tour in Surrey on Thursday 30th March, visiting Frimley Park, Royal Surrey and East Surrey Hospitals. On Friday they will cycle to Kent and visit Darent Valley, Medway Maritime and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Hospitals. Saturday will see them finish in Kent and move onto Sussex, stopping by William Harvey, Tunbridge Wells, Conquest and Royal Sussex Hospitals. The final day will be a quick stop at Worthing and Princess Royal Hospitals before returning home to St. Peter’s.
Paul adds: “360 miles over four days is no easy feat and there is no doubt it will be a real challenge! However, raising money and awareness for this fantastic cause is our motivation and we are really grateful to everyone who has supported us so far. Please give what you can and spread the word amongst family and friends.”
You can support Paul and Tony by donating at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NeonatalTransportPFPS. Or text PFPS10 £5 to 70070.
Pictured above: Tony Martinez (left) and Paul Crawshaw (right) in front of the specialist Neonatal Transfer Service ambulance.