SpaMedica invests in door-to-door service for cataract patients

A fleet of 40 minibuses has been transporting around 1000 patients each month to undergo cataract surgery

hand on walking stick
Pixabay/Sabine van Erp

SpaMedica has invested in patient transport vehicles to assist patients who are scheduled for cataract surgery.

The free door-to-door service is available to patients who might otherwise be unable to undergo cataract surgery.

A fleet of 40 minibuses is transporting around 1000 patients each month to their appointments.

Mark Prince, who oversees the operation at SpaMedica, shared that the service has grown 150% over the past year.

Drivers have previous experience in a range of roles, including support, fire and police services.

“Being able to relate to the patients is fundamental because the job goes beyond driving – it’s a compassionate service that puts the patients at ease. Given the past year of COVID, it’s possible that the driver will be among the first people these patients have been in close contact with for a long time, so it’s hugely important that they feel reassured and safe,” Prince said.

patient bus fleet
Spa Medica’s fleet of patient transport vehicles.

The transport service is also used by patients receiving treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in some areas of the UK.

“As the AMD patients visit the hospital regularly, many of them get to know each other quite well, and they tell us that they jokingly refer to it as their fun bus, which shows that it’s a positive, shared experience for them,” he said.

Dave Martin, from St Annes in Lancashire, has worked as a driver for SpaMedica for 18-months.

“It’s really rewarding because you know you’re making a difference. I had one patient who was extremely anxious and disliked motorways, so we did the entire journey only on A roads. Even the patients that are nervous about surgery always say to me afterwards ‘that’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be’. I can cover around 500 miles per day, and some days it’s like going on a trip with friends because the patients on the bus gel and get along like a house on fire,” he said.

Director of optometry at SpaMedica, Professor Christine Purslow, spoke to OT about championing community eye care as part of a round table earlier in the year.