Midwives are plugged in to make greener future a special delivery

Chairman of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Stuart Heys with Paul Charlton of Renault at the launch of the electric cars initiative at Chorley Hospital
Chairman of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Stuart Heys with Paul Charlton of Renault at the launch of the electric cars initiative at Chorley Hospital
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Community midwives are becoming eco friendly by taking to the roads in electric cars. AASMA DAY finds out more about the initiative and talks to midwives at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals who are taking part in the pilot project.

The prospect of never having to queue up at a filling station sounds very appealing – and for some Lancashire midwives, this is becoming a reality.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, which runs Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals, is taking part in a pilot project which means their communuity midwives and estates staff will be driving around in electric cars in a conscious effort to cut costs and become more environmentally friendly.

Electric vans and cars have been leased to the hospital trust for free by BMW, Nissan and Renault to help get the initiative off the ground.

Hospital chiefs will monitor the cost savings made and the impact on the environment after a period of three months and if the project proves successful, the organisation will look at rolling out more electric cars in its fleet.

The electric cars mean that instead of filling up at fuel stations, the cars are charged by being plugged into a charging inlet.

The vehicles are ideal for those doing urban drives or driving shorter distances.

Midwife Mirian Charlesworth, a community midwife based at Chorley, who has been a midwife for more than 25 years, will be picking up her electric car soon.

She says: “Midwives who are getting these electric cars can either choose to keep them at home or pick them up on a daily basis from the hospital.

“If you choose to keep them at home, you have to have a charging box fitted at home to charge up your vehicle.

“There are charging boxes at the hospital so the alternative is to come into the hospital premises to collect and charge the cars.

“I will have to wait and see if the cars are better or not, but they should certainly be better efficiency-wise. Electric cars are meant to be cheaper to run and better for the environment so it will certainly be better from that perspective.

“When you are a midwife working in the community, you are driving around from house to house. At the moment, we use our own cars for this and claim mileage.

“If these electric cars become permanent things, it means we will no longer need to use our own vehicles and this will save us putting miles and wear and tear on our cars.”

Community midwife, Laura Thorpe, says: “I think these electric cars are a really good idea.

“The cars will be fully equipped and charged and the fact they are electric is a bonus.

“We currently use our own cars and claim for mileage so it will cut down on time spent on admin and it means we can spend more time with the patients.”

Mike Woodruff, orthopaedic surgeon at the trust, was instrumental in bringing about the introduction of electric cars to the trust.

He says: “Our businesses is health, we have an opportunity for the trust to be exemplar in reducing air pollution.

“For me personally this is the culmination of a year’s hard work which I hope will be the start of a fulfilling mission.”

The electric cars will be based at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital with some midwives opting to have a charging box fitted at home so they can charge the vehicle from there.

Hospital chairman Stuart Heys tried out the new electric vehicles at the launch of the project.

Neither Lancashire Teaching Hospitals chairman Stuart Heys or chief executive Karen Partington were available to talk to the Evening Post or provide comments about how the electric cars initiative is going so far or about the benefits they feel the project will bring to the trust.

Electric cars factfile

There are different types of electric car. All use an electric motor. Electric hybrids use a combination of an internal combustion engine and and electric motor to propel the car.

Energy may be stored in a car in the form of gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, hydrogen, batteries, ultracapacitors, flywheels or compressed air.

This energy is then recovered and converted to mechanical energy by a motor which uses the appropriate energy source.

Cars that use rechargeable batteries only do not emit pollution. Electric cars charged from a coal-fired grid are still more efficient and produce less pollution than petrol engines.

Electric cars come in all sizes and performance. Generally, lighter, more aerodynamic, cars perform better.

Batteries can be used until they are dead just like petrol tanks can be run until empty. It is good to watch the gauge and refill them before this happens.

Car batteries are recharged just like mobile phone batteries. It typically takes overnight to charge a battery. However, they can be charged as quickly as 20 minutes but then they don’t last as long and special charge stations are needed.

The range of most electric cars is plenty for daily city needs so a second car is not needed, unless you travel long distances regularly.

Electric vehicles are as safe as similar-sized cars. Due to the low energy density of batteries and significance of weight to range, many electric cars are small.

The benefits of electric cars include less air pollution, less noise and a lower cost to operate. They are potentially more reliable due to fewer parts and mature technology.