New National Health Service (NHS) electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the road in the UK as part of a £2.1 million investment. This will help to relieve pressure on ambulance services across the country while helping the NHS cut its carbon footprint.
The investment in these zero-emissions electric vehicles will help the NHS becomes the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero by 2040. Each Health Trust in the UK has agreed to a plan to achieve huge carbon savings in the coming years. This is the equivalent of taking over half a million cars off the road.
Dr Nick Watts, NHS England Chief Sustainability Officer, 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.”
Eight ambulance trusts are trialling 21 zero-emission vehicles of various types, with six of the new green vehicles dedicated to mental health response in the community. These are designed to cut emergency response times for people with mental health needs and help reduce the demand for traditional double-crewed ambulances.
The new dedicated mental health response vehicles, which are already in action in the North West, differ in design from traditional ambulances. They still carry the equipment which enables them to respond to the most serious life-threatening emergencies but have fewer fluorescent markings and a less clinical interior to help put patients at ease. Plus, the quiet ride from electric vehicles helps to produce a calm environment in which to travel.
The all-electric vehicles 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.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England National Director for Mental Health, said: “The mental health response vehicles in this new green fleet are an important addition to mental health care, and we have a double win of being able to improve the experience of patients in crisis whilst also caring for the planet”.
Other vehicles in the new green fleet include those equipped to attend less severe emergencies and those designed to transfer seriously ill patients to and from high dependency units. This helps to relieve pressure on traditional ambulances and ensure patients get to the right location for the right treatment.
James Cook, NHS England Director for Primary and Community Care Improvement, said: “These new vehicles are an important addition to our emergency fleet and will change the way we deliver care in the community.
“They will help us see more patients whilst reducing demand on traditional double crewed ambulances. All while helping the NHS meet its broader green ambitions”.
Back in 2021, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust in the UK announced it had launched its first electric emergency response vehicles. Two Kia e-Niro cars became the Trust’s first fully electric emergency response vehicles.
Electric vehicles make complete sense for the NHS. With no internal combustion engine, there’s a significant reduction in moving parts, with no oil or filter changes needed. There’s also less waste produced, reduced downtime for the vehicles to be off the road and an estimated 25 percent reduction in overall maintenance costs.