Pedal power for cleaner healthcare delivery

The issue

Nationally, the NHS fleet and business travel account for around 4% of the NHS Carbon footprint, but as a community trust Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s (SCFT) is closer to 5.5%. Travel is a necessary part of its work in delivering care out in the community, seeing patients in their homes. A geographically diverse region means locations are harder to reach than others without a vehicle.

Travel can have a significant impact on health and environment so the trust is working hard to travel less when possible, and as efficiently as possible when it is unavoidable.

The solution

The Trust chose to promote and support more active travel among staff, alongside expanding its electric and hybrid fleet.

The Trust invested initially in a single e-bike as a pool bike available to all staff to trial for work travel. Electric and hybrid pool cars were available for staff who wanted to walk or cycle for their commute to work but did not find this practical for patient visits.

The Trust also created a Travel Bureau to coordinate bookings for the pool bikes, and to help staff plan routes for their visits. Route planning was also helpful for staff driving to visits, as it planned a route for the least amount of miles possible, helping to reduce fuel use and emissions.

The impact

The Trust now have three e-bikes dedicated to specific clinical teams for their sole use as well as a pool e-bike, and have covered around 8,000 miles in total, saving around 2 tonnes of CO2.

Using e-bikes has allowed staff in urban areas to avoid traffic jams and time spent looking for parking. Patients, especially children and their parents, have fed back that they love to see their nurse arriving on a bicycle.

Polly Conway, a Health Visitor in the Healthy Child Programme, is a huge advocate of her team’s e-bike which she uses on her home visits to new parents. She said, “They think it’s great, the bike. They’re concerned to make sure the environment’s good for the baby they’ve just bought into the world. So they’re pleased to see us out on the bikes.”

Active travel brings with it wellbeing and health benefits for staff, patients and the community and is a good, low carbon option for staff to get to patient visits where practical.

Over to you!

There are plans for two more team e-bikes and another pool e-bike, and the trust will continue to encourage use, supporting teams who want to try the pool bike, and helping them source funding for their own bike.

For more information about sustainability projects at Sussex Community Trust visit: