The NHS is testing electric ambulances to help reduce emissions

Six of the 21 zero-emission electric ambulances being tested by eight ambulance trusts are intended to address community mental health issues. With the help of the new vehicles, the need for conventional double-crewed ambulances will decline while emergency response times for those in need of mental health care would be slashed.

The electric ambulances are a part of a £2.1 million commitment to help the NHS achieve its aim of becoming the first healthcare organization to commit to net zero by 2040. Each trust has committed to a strategy to cut carbon emissions in the coming years, which is the equivalent of taking almost 500,000 cars off the road.

Specialized electric ambulances for mental health emergencies

By providing a specialized service, electric ambulances will free up time for general ambulances to react to mental health emergencies. The electric ambulances have a distinctive style and are already in use throughout the Northwest. They are equipped with emergency gear and can respond to extreme life-threatening situations when necessary. To assist patients feel more at ease, they have fewer fluorescent markers and a significantly less clinical interior.

“These new vehicles are an important addition to our emergency fleet and will change the way we deliver care in the community, helping us see more patients while reducing demand on traditional double crewed ambulances,” said James Cook, Director for Primary and Community Care Improvement at NHS England. All while assisting the NHS in realizing its larger environmental goals.

Greener cars to handle additional crises

When someone is having a mental health crisis, the cars can be used as a rapid response ambulance, offering a secure location for patients and medical personnel.

Other environmentally friendly vehicles include those that can transport seriously ill patients to and from High Dependency Units, relieving the need for traditional ambulances and ensuring that they arrive at the proper location for the appropriate treatment. These vehicles can also support less serious emergencies.

“We know that climate change has an impact on health, and the NHS can play its bit in avoiding ill-health by looking at novel ways to decrease emissions,” said Dr. Nick Watts, Chief Sustainability Officer at NHS England.

Each electric vehicle is less expensive to operate and maintain, which allows the new vehicles to spend more time on the road and alter how we provide care in the community. This reduces our carbon footprint as we work to make the NHS services greener and more effective as part of our goal to reach net zero by 2040.

“The mental health response vehicles in this new green fleet are an important addition to mental health care, and we have a double win of being able to improve the experience of patients in crisis while also caring for the planet,” said Claire Murdoch, National Director for Mental Health at NHS England.