What is the ROV?

The ROV has been temporarily funded by NHS England South West Specialised Commissioning to allow us to support you and your teams in undertaking time-critical and urgent critical care transfers overnight (21:00 to 09:00) when Retrieve’s clinical teams are unavailable.

Our hope is that this will help mitigate some of the delays that we are all experiencing accessing 999 ambulances.

The ROV goes live on Monday 5th December 2022.

Who is it for?

Refer to Retrieve in usual way (0300 030 2222) for all patients who are usually in scope of service (see website for more information).  Please note that repatriation and capacity transfers should not usually be carried out overnight. 

In addition, we will also support the time critical transfer of paediatric patients following referral to WATCh (0300 030 0789) and acceptance by BRHC (WATCh will liaise with us to organise our vehicle on your behalf).

The ROV is vehicle-and-driver only

  • This means that when referring us a transfer, if you wish to make use of the ROV (Retrieve Overnight Vehicle) you must:
    • Package your patient on a compatible Ferno Critical care transfer trolley, and bring all associated equipment (monitor, ventilator, syringe pumps, etc)
    • Bring sufficient critical care transfer equipment bag and drugs to manage all anticipated events (there are no medical consumables in the ambulance). 
    • Organise a team of two appropriately trained and experienced escorts (in line with regional and national guidelines).  Unlike 999 ambulances, there will be no clinical team, just a driver (non-clinical).  You cannot send a single escort with the patient.
  • If you are unable to meet the above requirements, please note that while we will not be able to dispatch the ROV, we will be happy to arrange a SWASFT vehicle in the usual way (please do not attempt to arrange this directly via 999 as SWASFT will refer you back to Retrieve).  
  • Where the ROV is already committed we will offer you the option to wait for it to become free, or arrange a SWASFT vehicle if the patient is time-critical.  For referrals late in the night-shift, we may discuss the option of the Retrieve team coming to you first on the day-shift, in the case of urgent referrals.

Our ambulance will come with

  • Oxygen (up to 8600L, 2250-3000L usable before stopping the vehicle to switch cylinders)
  • Basic consumables/patient care items
  • Level 1 PPE
  • An AED (please provide your own defibrillator for high-risk cases where defibrillator capability is likely to be required, or where pacing or synchronised shocks are likely to be needed)
  • A Laerdal Suction Unit with consumables

How does it work?

Our Duty Consultant will coordinate the process and keep you informed of progress.  Once the driver arrives they expect to leave within 20 minutes – you and your team must be ready to depart

Our driver will manage loading and unloading of the patient stretcher, safe stowage of equipment, orientation within the cabin and safe use of the seats.  For your own safety, please assist only when instructed (e.g. guiding the trolley in and out of the locking mechanism in the vehicle).

Our ambulance will return you and your equipment to your hospital but we ask you to prepare for the return journey within 30 minutes of arrival at the receiving hospital to maximise availability of the ROV for the region. 

Clinical governance

The clinical governance responsibility for these transfers resides with your Trust, and clinical advice should generally be sought from a consultant in your own hospital, including during the transfer itself. 

If this is not possible, the Retrieve Duty Consultant can be contacted via 0300 030 2222.  We have now published our Emergency Action Cards that can be used by anyone.

The Retrieve Duty Consultant should be the first point of contact for logistics queries. 

Clinical advice queries for paediatric transfers should be directed to WATCh.


Must be completed on the new SWCCN Critical Care Transfer form for all transfers.  Where the ROV is used, the audit copy should be left in the vehicle at the end of the transfer.  Where a SWASFT vehicle is used, please post the audit copy back to the SWCCN office (address on the form).

Next of kin

We are not able to transport next of kin.

Even in cases of paediatric transfer, WATCh have advised us, that for a time-critical transfer, they would only suggest parents travel in exceptional circumstances, and only at the discretion of the escorting team and the driver; do not feel obliged.  Parents who have been involved in the same incident that resulted in their child’s injury are not permitted to travel.  Parents must travel in the front of the vehicle and must be immediately ready to travel.

Questions and feedback

Please get in touch if you have any questions that have not been addressed by this information. If you have used the service, we welcome your feedback.