Green transport delivers life-saving drugs and improves patient experience

The issue

Around 4% (9.5 billion miles) of all road travel in England relates to the NHS, contributing around 14% of the system’s total emissions.

Traffic in and around Oxford is often congested which causes delays for vans delivering critical and patient-specific medical supplies, such as chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics and intravenous nutrition products to Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) sites. This unpredictability has put pressure on NHS staff to deliver treatment in a timely manner and has negatively affected patient experience. The Trust needed to find a more efficient way of getting key medical products to hospital sites and patients, that also benefitted the environment.

The solution

A pharmacist at OUH initiated discussions with their local supplier (Baxter and bike courier firm Pedal and Post) to set up an alternative transport solution for chemotherapy drugs. Life-saving products are now delivered by cycle couriers to wards, day treatment areas and pharmacies at two sites in Oxford, saving time, money and generating cleaner air. Using cycle couriers has reduced the impact of external factors such as peak hour traffic and roadworks on delivery times.

Bhulesh Vadher, Chief Pharmacist at the Trust, said “The new bike courier service has taken away unnecessary extra pressure on NHS staff and has considerably reduced the delivery time. Using bikes instead of cars or vans is also better for the environment and the Oxfordshire community”.

The impact

Up to the end of August 2021, over 51,000 products had been transported using the bikes since the first delivery was made at the start of August 2020. Delivery time to the two sites has halved, leading to improved service for patients.

The eco-friendly improvements deliver an estimated saving of up to 10 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, as well as improving air quality by eliminating pollution produced from diesel engines.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at the Trust, said: “Having a more effective and time efficient delivery system in place helps us support our hardworking staff and deliver the best care possible to our patients”.

Over to you!

The organisation has plans in place to extend the scheme, using e-motorbikes to deliver medicines to another site further away in North Oxfordshire.

OUH is in the process of creating a Sustainability Strategy and the key themes of this project – reducing carbon and car or van usage with the goal of improving patient care – are likely to be reflected in the Trust’s ongoing work towards sustainable healthcare.

Further information can be found on the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust website.
Contact: Roberto Vilar, Senior Specialist Cancer Pharmacist,