Doncaster based Cartwright Conversions has designed and built a bariatric ambulance for Bristol's Southmead Hospital.

With patients frequently transferred from the Brunel building to Elgar House across the 800-bed hospital site, the specially designed bariatric ambulance will provide a crucial addition to support patients weighing more than 25 stone (159kg).

The ambulance, a first for the North Bristol Trust, was purchased by Southmead Hospitals' League of Friends, an independent charity which generates most of its funds from a coffee shop in the hospital's Brunel building.

Cartwright Conversions designed the vehicle with a view to accommodating the extra weight load from its passengers. Built on a Fiat Ducato chassis, the ambulance has a 500kg lift and Ferno Megasus bariatric stretcher.

Additional features include an integral compartment for a bariatric wheelchair which can be used if required in place of a stretcher.

The ambulance not only provides support for bariatric patients at Southmead Hospital but will also be transported pregnant women from the maternity unit to the emergency theatre in the Brunel building when required.

The handover of the new bariatric ambulance took place on February 21.

Beverley Jackson, sales manager at Cartwright Conversions, said: 'We are delighted to hand over this bariatric ambulance to North Bristol NHS Trust after working so closely with them to design a vehicle that meets their requirements and those of their patients'

Catherine Phillips , the lead executive for charitable funds at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: 'We are incredibly grateful to Southmead Hospital League of Friends for providing the funding for the new specially-designed ambulance.

'The bariatric ambulance will help ensure a smoother transition from hospital to home and between buildings on site for patients requiring extra support'