A Cornish health trust’s determination to go green - potentially saving enough money to employ 12 nurses - has won praise from a Government minister.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer visited Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT), which looks after people with mental health problems.
The minister came to view the 15 strong fleet of electric vehicles which the trust invested in, along with solar farms, after receiving a £525,000 grant from the NHS Energy Efficiency Initiative and a further £75,000 from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to help implement eco-friendly green travel plans.
Baroness Kramer said it was impressive stuff: “Quite simply, this scheme means more nurses for the people of Cornwall.
“Switching to low emission vehicles will save the Trust £300,000 a year - this is the equivalent of 12 nurses.
“This is fantastic and goes to show the kind of benefits that electric cars can deliver for fleets.
“Other organisations and companies would be wise to follow suit with their fleets.
“With new models coming to market every month from major motor vehicle manufacturers and running costs of 2 pence to 3 pence a mile, these vehicles are an increasingly attractive option.
“It's excellent to see the Trust leading the way.”
The cars will complement the Trust's existing fleet of 100 traditional fuel vehicles which are used by health visitors, school nurses and community psychiatric nurses in the course of their duties.
Over five million miles are travelled by trust staff each year in the course of their work - the equivalent of travelling to the moon 23 times.
Julie Dawson, CFT's chief operating officer and carbon lead said: “We are delighted to share our green travel plans and other pioneering initiatives with Baroness Kramer.
“In a county like Cornwall we will never fully remove the need for our staff to travel in order to support patients but we are keen to ensure all journeys are undertaken in the most efficient way possible.
“For every 100 miles a member of staff travels in an electric car, we will save £14 - with investment into desktop video conferencing technology we aim to significantly reduce our mileage.”
The electric fleet has been strategically positioned across the trust's bases in Bodmin, Liskeard, Penzance and Redruth.
Solar farms have been installed on premises in Bodmin and Liskeard which will create more than £10,000 of electricity each year - offsetting additional electricity costs associated with the new fleet vehicles.
The electric vehicles will complement the trust's existing fleet and if successful will pave the way for more of the fleet to be switched to electric as it continues to take forward plans to reduce its carbon footprint in line with national NHS carbon reduction targets.
Desktop video-conferencing facilities will be available to all Trust staff by April 2014.