The new ambulances will be used by WAST’s Non Emergency Patient Transport Services to transport people to and from routine outpatient appointments at clinics, hospitals and day centres, playing a major role in the 1.5 million journeys that the service completes each year for patients. Specially converted to WAST’s individual requirements, the new Renault Masters allow a wide spectrum of patients to be easily catered for, including those who require stretchers, wheelchair users and those who have limited walking mobility.
Funded by the Welsh Government, the new vehicles are replacements for a number of WAST’s existing eight-year-old Renault Masters, many of which have now covered in the region of over 200,000 miles. The Renault Master makes up the vast majority of the organisation’s Non Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS) vehicles, accounting for over 220 of the near 280-strong fleet. It has operated Renault vehicles for over 20 years and the reliability and durability of its previous Masters was a major factor in its decision to reinvest in the brand.
WAST has specified its latest batch of Renault Masters in two differing configurations – 42 being converted for double wheelchair access and 25 being stretcher bearing vehicles with four passenger seats. Like its existing Renault Masters, WAST has chosen to base its latest ambulances on the long wheelbase, medium roof, front-wheel drive version (LM35).
All the conversions have been completed by Wilker, which is one of nearly 30 approved converters that are included in the Renault Accredited Converter programme.
As part of the conversions, Wilker has equipped each vehicle with an inboard tail lift that has a safe working load of 500kgs. The tail lift is the patient loading system of choice for WAST as it greatly reduces manual handling and lifting compared with other loading methods and is flexible enough to accommodate every category of patient. For the 25 stretcher bearing Renault Masters and to further reduce manual handling and lifting effort, WAST has specified stretchers that lower and raise electrically with a simple push of a button.
Powering the ambulances is the efficient 2.3-litre turbodiesel, dCi 110 engine, which is matched to a six-speed manual transmission. All the vehicles are based on the Business+ level of trim, which provides WAST’s drivers with such standard features as an alarm and electronic immobiliser, air conditioning, electric windows, ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), heated and electrically-adjustable door mirrors, central locking, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with Grip Xtend, Hill Start Assist and multi-function trip computer. Additionally, WAST also specified the optional MediaNav multimedia system with 7-inch touchscreen, Navteq navigation, DAB tuner and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
WAST benefits from the standard Renault 100,000-mile/three-year warranty on the base Renault Masters, while the quality of the conversion is illustrated through Wilker matching the manufacturer’s cover.
David Holmes, National Fleet Manager, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: “The Renault Master has been our ambulance vehicle base of choice for many years and it’s proved to be perfect for our needs time and time again, offering good value against rival vehicles, a high specification and, importantly, excellent durability and reliability.
“The front-wheel drive Master lends itself particularly well to the conversion as the low floor height, combined with the large sliding side door, provides generous access for more mobile patients and crews alike. Our teams find them a comfortable drive and another important bonus is that these latest, more efficient versions will enable us to make fuel savings and reduce the impact our journeys have on the surrounding environment.”
Vincent Tourette, Managing Director, Groupe Renault UK, commented: “We are delighted that the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust has reaffirmed its confidence in the Renault Master with this significant order. Importantly, it not only highlights how appealing the Renault Master is and the exceptional long-term reliability and durability it offers, but also the expertise and benefits that the Renault Accredited Converter programme offers. We are immensely proud to have a product and a specialised facility that has played a major role in helping people across Wales travel comfortably and safely to essential medical appointments for more than 20 years.”
The Renault Master is at the heart of the Renault Accredited Converter programme, which consists of nearly 30 approved converters who have been recognised to meet the demanding standards of Renault. Its variety and versatility enable it to form the basis of built-to-order specialised conversions that include welfare units, ambulances, temperature-controlled vans, horseboxes, transporters, ‘cherry pickers’ with cranes and platforms, minibuses, motorhomes and campers, and construction vehicles.
These bespoke vehicles complement a host of off-the-shelf Renault factory conversions that include Tipper, Platform Cab, Dropside, Luton LoLoader and Box Van variants.
The award-winning Renault LCV range is supported by the Renault Pro+ dealer network, which has been developed to meet the specific requirements of business customers. Benefits of the highly specialised network include finance products tailored for professional customers, extended opening hours and courtesy vehicles that are of the same category (wherever possible), to a dedicated after sales contact.