Frontline patient care is benefiting from financial savings made by NHS Forth Valley from fleet initiatives introduced after joining ECO Stars.
NHS Forth Valley has seen its three star ECO Stars rating improved to four stars in a 12-month period during which it replaced older vans with new, cleaner Euro5 emission models and rolled out telematics across part of the fleet.
The organisation provides a large number of health services to a population of almost 290,000 people across Central Scotland covered by Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils.
NHS Forth Valley operates a 65-strong commercial vehicle fleet, almost all vans, but currently ECO Stars is only supported by Fife Council so only the 36 vehicles operating in that area are involved in the initiative.
Vans are used for servicing the hospitals and health centres with patient meals, personal clothing, laboratory specimen collections, mail deliveries, pharmacy deliveries, waste collections and equipment deliveries.
NHS Forth Valley joined ECO Stars in June 2013 with transport and waste manager Gerald Ferrie explaining that it was keen to participate so it had a benchmark to work against as it “followed ECO Stars recommendations to improve our fleet efficiency”.
That strategy was rewarded with NHS Forth Valley’s reassessment to a four star rating in May 2014.
That was recognition of the older vans being replaced, but Ferrie said the single biggest change in fleet operations was the introduction of telematics on almost half of the fleet on a 12-month pilot.
He said: “These electronic devices help us to manage risk by monitoring the speed and driving patterns of vehicles. This information is also making a tremendous difference to fuel management and driver behaviour. The savings we make from fleet efficiencies goes directly to patient care.”
With the pilot, which has also highlighted the amount of time vehicles spend idling and thus ‘wasting’ fuel, nearing its conclusion, Ferrie said: “We are hopeful that after a review and assessment it will be possible to increase the proportion of vehicles which are fitted.”
NHS Forth Valley has also recently started to allow drivers to access their own information from the telematics system with Ferrie currently monitoring and collecting feedback.
He said: “I believe it is a good way to ensure drivers feel part of the process and are included in the drive for better efficiency.”
Ferrie hopes other local authorities will join the ECO Stars scheme - including Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils - and called on other public and private sector organisations to become involved.