An ambulance service covering Sussex will have three new custom-built ambulances added to its fleet to cope with obese patients.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is set to take delivery of the three ambulances by the close of the financial year.

The service, covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex, is spending £400,000 on ambulances designed to transport patients weighing as much as 50st.

The vehicles come with specialist manual handling aids and equipment including a Megasus stretcher, designed to reduce the risk of paramedics injuring themselves when moving larger patients.

The ambulances will also include gantry and mobile hoists, threshold ramps and enhanced air cushion lifting equipment in addition to the stair-climber chair.

The vehicles are based on the current DMA Mercedes model used by the service and are currently being built by suppliers Wilker in Ireland.

One ambulance will be based at Worthing Ambulance Station with the others in Kent and Surrey to cover all trust areas.

Secamb’s investment in new transport specifically for larger patient is lower than other ambulance trusts.

Earlier this month The East Midlands Ambulance Trust announced it was buying 80 specialist ambulances at a cost of £8million while the East of England Ambulance Trust has 166 of their 271 fleet specially strengthened at cost of £16.6m.

This is the trust’s first such expenditure since 2006 when two vehicles were adapted and new stretchers purchased at a total cost of £10,000.

In October, The Argus revealed that one in four Sussex people will be “very overweight” within three years.

NHS Sussex said that if people living in the county did not change their eating and exercising habits they risked becoming obese by 2014.

The service’s head of fleet Justin Wand said: “The new vehicles and equipment will provide the trust with a specialist ability to care for these patients with specific needs.”

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