AN APPEAL has been launched to find voluntary drivers to help give patients a lift to hospitals across south Essex.

Carecars, a voluntary transport scheme which runs out of Southend Hospital, is struggling to cope with patient demand.

As a result, it is having to turn patients desperate to get to their hospital appointment away because there is no driver available.

Carecars takes patients to clinics and outpatient appointments across Mid and South Essex, including Southend, Basildon, and Broomfield.

Jane O’Connell, Southend Hospital voluntary services manager, said: “We need more drivers.

“All our booking clerks and drivers are volunteers. But it’s expanded so much and become so popular that in a way we are victims of our own success.”

“Our drivers are a cheerful, friendly face, particularly for those with long-term conditions who have lots of appointments.  But last month we had to tell 15 patients we couldn’t find them a driver.

"It is heart-breaking.”

The cost to the patient is a donation of 56p a mile. The driver drops off and waits for the patient while they are having their appointment and then takes them home.

Shoebury mum, Cheryl Clipsham, has thanked Carecars driver Steve Reddish for his help when her daughter needed an operation.

She said: “Steve was just brilliant. He was available at very short notice at times and would always text afterwards to see how she was. He is just so kind and thoughtful.”

To apply to become a driver, call 01702 635555 ext 6135 or email