Ambulance care assistant and patient transport service driver
Ambulance care assistants or patient transport service (PTS) drivers move people to and from clinics and hospitals.
As well as driving, ambulance care assistants and PTS drivers also lift and help patients in and out of the vehicle. They make sure patients are safe and comfortable during the journey and arrive on time for their appointment. Some of their passengers might be anxious about their visit so the driver or assistant may talk to them to reassure them. Drivers and assistants usually cover a particular geographical area. They often see the same people on a regular basis and get to know them.
Some drivers work alone, driving a car to transport one or two more able-bodied people at a time. Others may work as part of a two-person team using a specially designed ambulance with a tail-lift for wheelchairs, carrying several people on each journey.
Ambulance care assistants are trained in resuscitation in case a patient is taken ill while in their care. Other duties include making sure that the vehicle is clean and tidy and keeping an accurate record of their journeys.
More experienced PTS drivers may take on specialist work such as transporting:
- mental health patients
- people nearing the end of their lives
- kidney patients
Drivers and assistants are based at a central depot such as a large hospital or ambulance station, with a team of other assistants.
Training and development
Ambulance care assistant and patient transport service drivers usually have an initial two to three week training course. This covers:
- moving and handling techniques
- first aid
- basic patient skills
- safe driving techniques
Training includes practical assessments and written exams. Once you have passed these tests, you are allocated to an ambulance station. You work under the guidance of a trained supervisor before working unsupervised.
Later you could take further training to work with patients with particular needs, such as kidney patients or babies.
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- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales and ambulance care assistants usually start on bands 2 or 3. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. Adult nurses in the NHS will usually work standard hours of 37.5 per week. Terms and conditions can vary for employers outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
You could progress to become a team leader or supervisor. You would be in charge of a team of assistants and drivers, responsible for allocating work and drawing up transport schedules.
You could take further training to become an emergency care assistant. With more experience, you could apply to train as a paramedic. You would have to pass entrance exams and meet other requirements before being accepted onto a paramedic course.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
Most NHS organisations advertise their job and apprenticeship vacancies on NHS Jobs, including those who run NHS services. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations at NHS Choices.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. Find out more about NHS values.
- Further information Expand / Collapse