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Special ambulance for 70-stone man

PUBLISHED: 15:54 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 July 2010

A SPECIALLY designed ambulance may transport a 70-stone patient from his Suffolk home to receive life-saving surgery 150 miles away.

St John Ambulance Suffolk, which has four vehicles designed to cater for the needs of extremely obese patients, is today in discussion with health chiefs over the transportation of Paul Mason, from Ipswich, who needs lifesaving surgery in Sussex.

A SPECIALLY designed ambulance may transport a 70-stone patient from his Suffolk home to receive life-saving surgery 150 miles away.

St John Ambulance Suffolk, which has four vehicles designed to cater for the needs of extremely obese patients, is today in discussion with health chiefs over the transportation of Paul Mason, from Ipswich, who needs lifesaving surgery in Sussex.

A media storm was created after it emerged that Mr Mason, 48, believed to be the world's heaviest man, may be flown in a Chinook helicopter to receive the surgery in Chichester.

However now, it has emerged that he may be taken in a bariatric ambulance, which contains specialist equipment, and comes with a dedicated clinical team.

The vehicles, partly designed by St John Ambulance, arrived in the county in 2003 and the four in Suffolk are among the only ones operating in the whole country.

The maximum weight the ambulances can take is 71 and a half stone, although Keith Hotchkiss, operations manager for St John Ambulance Suffolk based in Bramford, admits that transporting a patient weighing 70 stone would be a first.

Mr Hotchkiss said: “I can confirm that we have been in discussions with the Primary Care Trust about the transportation of a patient to enable him to receive surgery. As yet, there is no confirmation as to which option the PCT will elect to take.

“St John Ambulance Suffolk is proud of the part it has played in ensuring it has transportation and a team of professionals which are specifically capable of providing a dignified and efficient service when it comes to assisting bariatric patients.

“We have taken patients in their upper 60s [stone] before. Anyone above that would currently be a first for us but something we could manage comfortably.”

On average the service transports three obese patients a day (those with a Body Mass Index over 40), which can mean taking people to appointments for treatments.

The cost of Mr Mason's transportation and treatment, which is thought to run into tens of thousands of pounds, will be met by NHS Suffolk, which is obliged under law to seek treatment and deliver it.

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