Just prior to the Christmas holidays, duty Controller, Duncan Oag, received a request during his shift from Lynn Baines, the Ante Natal and New Born Screening Coordinator at Furness General Hospital, who was asking if we could take some samples collected over the Christmas period to Manchester. Duncan took the details and passed them up the chain.
North area Manager, Steve Dunstan, contacted Lynn who told him that samples were taken from babies at Furness General, Westmorland General and Royal Lancaster Infirmary and had a 5 day shelf life. Normally the Royal Mail would ensure a prompt delivery to St Mary’s in Manchester, but with no post over the Christmas period, they had a problem. Steve gladly agreed to help and sorted out collection times and then got riders in place. Steve recalls that in one email exchange he was asked, “How do I arrange to pay you?” It gave him the biggest thrill of the week to be able to reply and say, “There is no charge - We are volunteers. It’s what we do”
To minimise the distance travelled by the riders, relays were set up. At 8:45am on Tuesday 29th December, Barrow rider Neil Wallis-Tennant texted the Controller Manager, Neil McCall, that he had collected the samples from Furness General maternity unit and was heading off to junction 36 of the M6. Meanwhile Kendal rider Malcolm McDowell headed to Helm Chase at Westmorland General for his collection at 9am before heading off to meet Neil. Handover complete at 9:25am and Malcolm set off to junction 34 to meet up with Lancaster rider Steve Ingle who had collected samples from Royal Lancaster Infirmary at 9:50am before heading to junction 34. Handover completed at 10:05am Steve then set off down the M6 heading to his handover point to meet up with Central rider Paul Brooks at junction 8 of the M61 who would do the last leg to Manchester. Handover completed at 10:40am Paul safely delivered samples from all 3 of our northern hospitals to Manchester St Marys New Born Screening Lab at 11:20am
When Lynn was informed that the samples had been delivered she said “What a great service” and was very appreciative to all those involved.
Although the run was outside our normal operating hours it was another great team effort from our volunteers who gladly gave up their own time and fuel which avoided the NHS having to use taxis on the 110 mile journey and ensured that the samples got delivered within the time period.