IT was in the spirit of local pop star Chris Rea's Driving Home For Christmas song, that a group of staff from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Hospital Foundation Trust stayed late to drive discharged patients home for Christmas.

The therapists, physiotherapists and other staff remained at work after their shifts had ended to drive 15 discharged patients home from the University Hospital of Hartlepool. The patients, who were struggling for lifts, were driven home in an insured Trust-owned vehicle.

Physiotherapist Bev Marwood said: “We heard there were a lot of patients waiting to get home, so we decided to help out.

“We had a great time. I helped three lovely people get home that evening

“The first patient was actually a patient of mine from many years ago, it’s a small world.

“I was really happy to help out. It is nice to facilitate a discharge that frees up movement in the hospital, especially knowing first-hand how pressured it is from A&E. All three of those patients and their families were so glad to get home. We made them feel like royalty!”

Trust care group manager Steve Pett said: “I’m so proud of our staff!

“They always go the extra mile for our patients and this time, they literally all went extra miles! They all spent hours on a cold evening picking up patients from hospital and taking them home. Time that they could have spent doing anything they wanted.

“They all just volunteered without complaint and got on with helping people get home for Christmas.”