How to become a patient transport driver (With duties)

Updated 6 June 2023

Patient transport drivers help medical teams carry patients to and from healthcare facilities quickly and safely. If you have excellent driving skills and an understanding of emergency response protocols, then you may want to consider this type of work. Learning about the requirements for becoming a patient transport driver may help you determine if it's the right job for you. In this article, we explain how to become a patient transport driver, explore the duties and responsibilities and discuss the key qualities of these professionals.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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What is a patient transport driver?

A patient transport driver, or an ambulance care assistant or patient transport service (PTS) driver, carries patients to and from hospitals, clinics and day centres. They frequently work with older adults or people with disabilities. PTS drivers may work with vulnerable people or patients in critical conditions, so they require life-saving skills that they might use during medical emergencies. Here are examples of daily duties in this role:

  • transporting people in a safe manner

  • observing road and driving conditions

  • cleaning the vehicle and equipment after each transport

  • undertaking routine vehicle checks and reporting any defects

  • overseeing drug and medical supplies restocking

  • following personal protective equipment regulations

  • treating patients politely and respecting their cultural or religious beliefs

Related: Q&A: how much do ambulance drivers make? (Plus benefits)

How to become a patient transport driver

To learn how to become a patient transport driver, review these steps on obtaining the mandatory education, experience and skills for the role. Here's how to develop professionally and prepare for this position:

1. Meet employers' educational requirements

There are no formal educational requirements for PTS drivers, but employers typically want you to have the necessary qualifications to perform the role's primary responsibilities. For example, they may seek candidates with GCSEs, NVQs or equivalent qualifications. Many employers require candidates to have a minimum of three GCSEs, including English and maths, at grade C or above. This is to ensure that the candidate they recruit has good standards of numeracy and literacy.

Related: GCSE equivalent qualifications

2. Have a valid driving licence

To become a PTS driver, you require a full driving licence for a manual vehicle. You may also require an LGV C1 licence if you want to drive an ambulance that weighs between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes. If you want to apply for a job that involves driving larger vehicles, such as minibuses with up to 16 passenger seats, a D1 licence category is more appropriate. You can apply for this type of licence if you're at least 21 years old.

If you've passed your driving test after 1996, employers may expect you to obtain extra qualifications demonstrating your ability to drive heavy and large vehicles. Presenting these qualifications also shows employers you know how to transport passengers carefully. Examples of qualifications employers might ask for include a theory test in hazard perception or a C1 practical test that qualifies you for working as a driver in a medical setting.

Related: What is a Class C licence and how to qualify for one

3. Gain relevant work experience

Finding relevant work experience before applying for a job as a PTS driver can increase your chances of impressing employers with your qualifications. It's best if you obtain this experience in a healthcare setting. Working or volunteering with older adults or those with disabilities is likely to increase your chances of employers recruiting you. Other job types that may help you qualify for this work include public service, customer care or transportation roles.

Related: What are no experience healthcare jobs? (With salary info)

4. Learn about safe systems of work

Safe systems of work are procedures that PTS drivers follow. These help you avoid unnecessary risks and workplace hazards and provide clear methods for transporting passengers safely. As a PTS driver, there are several frameworks you follow to help you manage your workload in a safe way, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Related: The importance of health and safety at work (With tips)

5. Get medical clearance

By getting medical clearance, you demonstrate to potential employers that you possess good physical, emotional and mental health. Typically, you get clearance via a single doctor's appointment. During the appointment, you provide the doctor with information about any medication you're taking and they perform various health checks. The doctor also evaluates your eyesight, so bring your driving glasses and prescription details if applicable.

6. Pass background checks

As a PTS driver, you're a frontline medical or emergency team member. To make sure you can handle the role's responsibilities, employers require you to pass an enhanced background check. For example, this may involve passing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's group two standards satisfactory criminal background check.

Related: A complete guide to understanding background checks

7. Complete onboarding and practical training

Onboarding is a key element of PTS driver recruitment. After securing a job as a PTS driver, you then complete the training that the employer provides, which usually takes two to three weeks. During this time, you typically learn from experienced drivers and other medical specialists about patient handling and safe driving techniques. Employers may expect you to undergo first aid training, which helps you develop basic medical skills and prepares you for managing patient emergencies.

Related: 12 on-the-job training advantages when starting a new role

Patient transport driver qualities

Patient transport driver qualities are the skills and abilities you use to perform your daily tasks. Here are some key competencies for this role:

Knowledge of emergency driving techniques

As a PTS driver, driving is your main responsibility. Ensure you know how to focus on the road and avoid any distractions. These include manual distractions, such as situations during which you might take your hands off the steering wheel, and cognitive ones, such as engaging in discussion with patients during a journey. The third type of distraction you might encounter is a visual distraction, for example, when you take your eyes off the road to look at something in the vehicle.

A key element of safe driving is maintaining bigger distances between the ambulance and other vehicles on the road, as driving this type of vehicle in an emergency situation is very different to regular driving. You are responsible for preparation, and you begin each workday by checking the vehicle's mirrors to make sure you can drive safely. You require an awareness of additional safety rules to make the journey more comfortable for patients sitting at the back of the vehicle, for example, by easing into stops and slowly lifting up your foot when switching pedals.

Physical strength and stamina

PTS drivers regularly load and unload vehicles. You're responsible for lifting or supporting patients as they get in or out of the ambulance. To perform these duties safely, it's essential to maintain high levels of physical fitness, which builds your strength, resilience and endurance.

Related: Resilience training: best practices, benefits and FAQs


PTS drivers wear uniforms similar to those of paramedics. When a patient sees that the people responsible for transporting them look professional, they're more likely to trust them and feel comfortable in the ambulance. Employers expect you to look presentable in this role, for example, by keeping your hair tidy and making sure your uniform is clean.

Related: Importance of first impressions (And how to improve yours)

Navigation skills

PTS drivers navigate around specific areas to help patients reach health centres or return home after a hospital visit. Therefore, it's your responsibility to decide on the best and safest way to reach a destination, for example, when a patient's condition requires you to avoid motorways or potholes. Satellite or digital navigation tools are the typical means to achieve this. In some instances, you may use traditional navigation methods, such as paper maps.

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