NHS rolls out new electric vehicles to help patients and the planet
Thursday, 22 September 2022
New NHS electric vehicles have hit the road over the last few months, helping to relieve pressure on the ambulance service and also helping the NHS cut its carbon footprint.
The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has three zero-emission vehicles two rapid response vehicles and one mental health ambulance. The mental health ambulance is dedicated to providing mental health response across Merseyside. Designed to cut emergency response times for people with mental health needs and help reduce demand on traditional double-crewed ambulances.
The bespoke ambulance is operated by the local dedicated mental health triage team. They work in partnership with Mersey Care, Merseyside Police and British Transport Police and, using their specialist skills, can attend to mental health patients in crisis. This reduces the demand for traditional double-crewed ambulances and helps prevent avoidable admissions to hospitals and detentions under the Mental Health Act. In July, the team were presented with an NHS parliamentary award for excellence in urgent and emergency care for this work.
The vehicles are part of a national £2.1m investment, as the NHS becomes the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero by 2040, with each Trust agreeing a plan to achieve huge carbon savings in the coming years – equivalent to taking over half a million cars off the road.
The new dedicated mental health ambulance, which is already in action, differs in design from traditional ambulances – while they still carry the equipment which enables them to respond to the most serious life-threatening emergencies when required – they have fewer fluorescent markings and a much less clinical interior to help put patients at ease.
The all-electric vehicle can be deployed as a rapid response vehicle when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, providing a safe space for healthcare workers to support patients with mental health needs.
Other vehicles in the new green fleet in the north west include two state-of-the-art DAF LF Electric 19-tonne HGV vehicles, built by Leyland Trucks, which are being used to transport essential supplies, equipment, and laundry across the four hospital sites operated by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.
Jonathan King, Mental Health Triage Car Lead, says: “The mental health vehicle is fantastic. It was great to have input into its design, and it is exactly what we hoped it would be. The mental health triage car partnership is going from strength to strength in Merseyside, and this vehicle will be a valuable asset for our work”.
James Cook, Director for Community Care, Mental Health and Ambulance Improvement Support at NHS England said: “These new vehicles are an important addition to our emergency fleet and will change the way we deliver care in the community – helping us see more patients whilst reducing demand on traditional double crewed ambulances. All while helping the NHS meet its broader green ambitions.”
Dr Nick Watts, Chief Sustainability Officer at NHS England said: “We know that climate change has an impact on health, and the NHS can play its part in preventing ill-health by looking at new ways to reduce emissions.
“Each electric vehicle costs less to run and maintain, meaning these new vehicles will spend more time on the road and change the way we deliver care in the community – whilst also cutting our carbon footprint as we strive to make NHS services greener and more efficient as part of our ambition to hit net zero by 2040.”