New NHS electric vehicles are hitting the road this summer, helping to relieve pressure on ambulance services across the country while also helping the NHS cut its carbon footprint.
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 – designed to cut emergency response times for people with mental health needs and help reduce demand on traditional double-crewed ambulances.
The vehicles are part of a £2.1 million 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 response vehicles, which are already in action in the North West, differ 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 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.
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 – helping to relieve pressure on traditional ambulances and ensure patients get to the right location for the right treatment.
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”.
Claire Murdoch, National Director for Mental Health at NHS England 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”.