Sustainability and net zero patient transport
There has now been a clear path outlined to a net zero NHS patient transport sector, but what will this mean for transport providers such as ourselves?
What will the future look like and how do we get there?
The NHS recently published a report of the non-emergency patient transport (NEPTS) review.
Titled ‘Improving non-emergency patient transport services’, the report collates a number of findings and statistics, and it also sets out the development of the new national framework for NEPTS.
According to the report, patient transport emits 57-65 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, which constitutes approximately 20% of the NHS’ direct travel emissions.
With figures like the above, one key focus of the report and therefore a focus of improving NEPTS moving forward is surrounding sustainability.
In line with the NHS’ ambitious commitment to a net zero health service by 2040, they state that ‘patient transport needs to be at the forefront of the commitment’ and in order to achieve this, the patient transport sector will be looking at a shift to electric vehicles.
What are your thoughts on the NHS’ aims?
As an experienced independent patient transport provider, we are proud to work to support organisations across the NHS.
We understand their aims and commitment to transitioning away from fossil fuels, but it does raise some concerns.
Although the report suggests that the ‘cost of purchasing and leasing zero-emission vehicles will fall over the next decade’, shifting to an entirely electric fleet of vehicles may be a difficult path for independent providers.
Cost is of course a key issue and concern and a shift to electric vehicles will likely be a development that will require a sizable investment from companies.
Another consideration is around how electric vehicles could impact the length of journeys.
To support the increased use of electric vehicles across the NEPTS sector, there needs to be a vast expansion in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country.
Particularly for providers like ourselves who are prepared to travel both near and far to support patients and get them to their destination, electric vehicles will present challenges.
The length of journeys will need to be carefully considered and routes will need to be planned meticulously to 1, ensure vehicles will have adequate charge and 2, to ensure they can be recharged when needed.
We understand the NHS’ commitment and the importance of reducing pollutants and emissions across the patient transport sector, and we will work to evolve and adapt to ensure we are complying with all guidance and standards.
But it will be interesting to see what support, if any, may be made available to enable independent providers like ourselves to follow the ‘clear path to net zero patient transport’.
If you work within the NEPTS sector, it would be great to get your thoughts on this topic.