Derbyshire NHS staff go green with electric car scheme


Electric vehicle trial so popular it is being extended by Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust

A trial to encourage NHS workers to use low-emissions pool cars for visiting patients has proved so popular that the scheme is being extended, with the introduction of an electric car.

Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust teamed up with Co-wheels just over a year ago to introduce 10 Toyota Aygo cars primarily for the benefit of health workers who often travel to remote parts of the county.

The scheme has been such a success that it is now being extended and, in another move towards reducing the organisation’s environmental footprint still further, an electric Nissan Leaf car will be included in the car pool on a trial basis.

The trust has successfully won grants of £10,000 to enable an electric car charging point to be installed at Clay Cross Hospital.

Mark Armstrong-Read, spokesman for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, who has led on the pool car scheme, said: “Feedback from staff has been extremely positive and there are numerous wider benefits apart from the environmental benefits, including improved safety and availability of these cars to members of the public outside working hours through the Co-wheels car club website.”

In the first year of the Co-wheels trial, pool car users transferred 54,900 miles from their own higher-polluting vehicles and saved an estimated 5.3 tonnes of CO2.

So far 212 people have registered to use the pool cars, with the most-active user travelling 3,168 miles during 2013. Although primarily used by NHS staff, the scheme is also open to local residents for private use if they register with Co-wheels. Drivers must be over 18 years old and have held a licence for at least 12 months.

Armstrong-Read said: “Users overwhelmingly voted the scheme a success, with 100% of survey respondents who have used the pool cars rating it as 'very good or 'good'. The cars are all fully maintained, serviced and insured. It all helps to ensure our staff are safe as they are out on the roads for us in the course of their working day. With such a wide area to cover and many patients living in rural locations, we felt it was particularly important for us to take a lead on looking at solutions to reduce the impact of travel on the environment and on our costs.”

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The cars are located at five hospital sites: Babington Hospital, Belper; Buxton Cottage Hospital; Clay Cross Hospital; Walton Hospital, Chesterfield; and Whitworth Hospital, Darley Dale.