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Hospital cuts travel costs by 40% with electric pool car

As part of their job roles, therapy staff at West Middlesex University Hospital, regularly make visits to patients’ homes. Traditionally these were made via company funded taxis, but with 15-20 home visitors on the team and 60% of discharged patients needing a home assessment, travel costs soon added up. In 2013 the hospital's bill for therapists' taxi fares came to £38,000.

Using the services of business mobility specialist Alphabet, therapy staff at the hospital are now able to use an electric pool car instead of a taxi. The role is ideally suited to an electric vehicle. Journeys are short and the car is always returned to its base where it can be charged. And with an EV there is no need to administer fuel cards or garage receipts.

Transport for London gave the Trust a grant to install two EV charging bays in the hospital car park. However, even with this boost, the obstacles to using an EV still seemed ‘insurmountable’ said Andy Finlay, the Trust's performance and operations manager.

‘The first few suppliers we went to on the NHS procurement framework weren't interested in leasing just one EV to us,’ he said. ‘If we'd wanted a fleet of four or five cars, procurement would not have been a problem. But we wanted to begin by proving the concept, so one car was all we wanted.’

The situation changed when the Trust found Alphabet, who were on the framework and were happy to lease a single vehicle. Alphabet's AlphaElectric consulting team provided information on the Whole Life Costs of EVs compared with combustion cars. AlphaElectric also advised on choosing and operating EVs.

The Trust settled on a Nissan Leaf, with a delivery lead time of five to six weeks. Then it found it could only insure a minimum of five fleet cars through the NHS's procurement framework policy. Again, Alphabet solved the Trust's problem as it offers insurance-inclusive leasing packages. Through its broker, it arranged a policy solely for the Trust's Leaf.

Therapy staff at the hospital now use the electric pool car instead of a taxi whenever they can. Leasing the Leaf will allow the Trust to redirect around 40% of the money it once spent on fares into patient care.

‘It's a win-win for us on cost and the environment,’ said Finlay. ‘The more we save on expenditure, the more we can put into front line services. The saving we make with the pool car could equate to half a nurse's salary in the first year.’

Assuming that the pool car arrangement performs as expected, the Trust is likely to extend its use of pooled EVs in future, added Finlay.

Natalie Middleton

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