Trust Electric Pool Car Initiative Showcased Across United Kingdom

24th April 2023

A new eco initiative of ‘electric pool cars’ for District Nursing staff is to be showcased across the NHS in the United Kingdom, following a successful trial in the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.  The introduction of this initiative is a first within a Health & Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland and will contribute towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable future.

Within Community Services, staff often need to use their private cars to get to work because they use their vehicle for the delivery of direct care to patients in a broad range of locations across the South Eastern Trust area.  The trial of ‘electric pool cars’ identified high mileage community service staff that would make the biggest impact to electrify our “grey fleet”. This has provided a range of benefits including the reduction of CO2 emissions, a reduction of particulates that have been associated with the onset of asthma and the reduction of staff travel claim costs.  In addition as these staff no longer need to use their vehicle to get into work, they have seen a reduction of  wear and tear of their vehicles along with a reduction in single occupancy vehicle journeys to work, all of which will improve parking and access for patients and visitors to Trust facilities.

This pilot initiative has been very much welcomed by District Nursing staff, especially at a time with rising fuel costs. The District Nursing service operates a 24/7 service and the vehicles are typically used by day teams in the morning for home visits and then placed on Trust charging points in the afternoon in preparation for night staff. This maximises the use of the vehicles throughout the day and during night time.  Each of the cars have visible logos identifying them as zero emission and have been beneficial in promoting an image of the service that is cleaner and greener to local communities.

The initiative has seen improved morale of community staff involved in the trial, they express that they feel valued and listened to, as the initiative was introduced during the period when fuel costs rose significantly.

Highlighting the benefits of the pilot,  Assistant Director of Patient Experience, Jeff  Thompson said, “There are many staff within the Trust who could make healthier choices to walk, cycle or get public transport into work, but choose not to or cannot because they require a vehicle to carry out their duties.  The Patient Experience Department addressed the problem and provided a pilot fleet of electric vehicles for staff who regularly used their own cars for business use.

“The aim was to combine electric vehicle cars with public transport to help reduce the carbon footprint and minimise business miles claimed at work, through staff using their own cars. This initiative has also greatly helped staff with the reduction of fuel costs and savings in relation to the reimbursement of business mileage.

“Following the success of the pilot, we are now looking at the potential to expand this initiative across other services in the Trust.  We are delighted that the Trust has been asked to showcase our innovative approach across the broader NHS system throughout the United Kingdom.”

District Nurse, Sarah Rocks who has been using one of the electric vehicles added, “The electric vehicle has modernised transportation within District Nursing, giving staff an opportunity to deliver patient care 24 hours a day whilst protecting the environment”.