AN ambulance service has redesigned their vehicles in the hopes that disabled people will find them easier to access.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has unveiled 44 ambulances and 43 patient transport service vehicles that have been adapted for disabled people, including people with sight and hearing impairments and people living with dementia.

NEAS is the first ambulance service in the country to completely re-design some of their vehicles to help meet the needs of all of their patients.

Among the changes are a new look interior, an improved colour scheme, flooring, seat colours, better signs and handrails.

The vehicles have been approved by the Alzheimer’s Society as dementia friendly vehicles and the outside of the vehicles will display a sign indicating the new vehicles are dementia friendly spaces.

NEAS chief executive Helen Ray said: “Being in an ambulance can be a very traumatic experience ­– even more so for patients who have specific needs.

“What might appear to be small adaptations, such as changing signs and the colour of handrails, can make a big difference to disabled patients. These changes will mean that they can access our vehicles more easily and help people to live more independently."

Tom Howlett of vehicle manufacturer WAS which carried out the ambulance conversion, said: “It’s been a very rewarding project to work on knowing that it will have a positive impact on patient experience. It’s easy to forget the difficulties that some patients can face when they are in an ambulance or PTS vehicle. We hope the adaptations can make a real difference for them.”