VOLUNTEER bikers have been clocking up the miles to support local hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering medication to vulnerable patients in their homes.

SERV Wessex usually transports blood, platelets, urgent medical samples and equipment as well as breast milk, to hospitals in the area but has been adapting its service to support the NHS.

Robert Smith, who is a volunteer for the charity, said: “On the first of April we started a day time service. We always did milk runs and heart monitor runs but we were contacted by the hospital pharmacy.

“Now we are moving the medication from the hospital pharmacies to the patients in the community. We are providing this now for all the hospitals in our area – Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Winchester.

The pharmacy service gives the NHS access to SERV Wessex's volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Robert says the number of jobs volunteers are now carrying out has increased significantly.

He added: “It has gone from when we used to do maybe three or four booked jobs a week we are now doing 25 jobs a day and covering 400 miles a day.”

SERV Wessex has now got a second controller to help with the dispatching of jobs to volunteers due to this increase in demand for its services.

“The volunteers are outstanding, they are absolutely going above and beyond,” said Robert. “Everyone is pulling together fantastically. We have never really delivered to people’s homes before and they are so appreciative that we are doing this for them because they can’t get to the hospital to get their meds.”

A campaign has now been started called Keep the Wheels Moving to support volunteers with fuel costs and ensure the service keeps running.

SERV Wessex only has a small charity fleet, so much of the costs are covered by volunteers using their own vehicles and paying all their costs including fuel.

As Robert explains: “We have a small charity fleet and BP are providing free fuel for that for April, which is going to run out. With restrictions as they are we can’t really move our fleet around as we used to and do handovers to people. The bulk of this is on our volunteers paying out of their own pockets.

"We’ve taken the decision to put some of our funds into a pot. A lot of our volunteers won’t take the money because it is against what they feel but the ones that really want to help we don’t want them to feel that they can’t help just because of their financial situation.”

To donate go to virginmoneygiving.com/fund/helpforfuel