A major cradle to grave review of the 12,000-strong NHS Scotland fleet – including the 1,450 vehicles operated by the Scottish Ambulance Service – is underway.
It aims to identify the potential synergies that can be gained from greater collaboration of fleet management across the NHS Scotland fleets, and how any benefits can be fully realised.
Michael Jackson, general manager for the Scottish Ambulance Service fleet, which comprises 450 blue-light ambulances, 400 patient transport ambulances, with the remainder of the fleet being specialist and support vehicles and cars, has been seconded by NHS Scotland’s National Services Board to conduct the review.
Since July, he has been gathering information and data on how the 22 NHS Boards in Scotland – 14 Territorial and eight Specials, which are responsible for the delivery of frontline healthcare services – currently provide the full range of transport and fleet services.
The plan is to produce an initial options appraisal report later this month which will identify action that should be considered further for shared services across the NHS Scotland fleets.
A final options appraisal report is scheduled to be delivered by Jackson in December to NHS Scotland’s Shared Services Facilities Board with a series of recommendations.
The initiative has echoes of the move to amalgamate the existing eight Scottish police forces and the Scottish Police Service Authority into a new ‘super fleet’ with the creation of a 3,500-strong vehicle operation from possibly April 2013. Potential vehicle savings alone are estimated at £8.42 million by 2026.
Jackson told Fleet News: “The review will initially focus at a strategic level and will map the business processes inside each Health Board.
“The overall aim is to maximise the efficiency of NHS Scotland fleet operations without compromising operational effectiveness, and ultimately to achieve best value and help NHS Scotland deliver a high level of quality care.”
He added: “Fleet management is a mission critical area of support for NHS operations such as the Ambulance Service and the National Blood Transfusion Service and is a very important support function for all of the Territorial Health Boards, and continuity of service is vital.
“Partnership working has the potential to offer improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and economies of scale, which will ensure good value for the public purse and allow us to release recurring efficiency savings for investment in front-line services.
“In the 11 years that I have managed the ambulance service fleet, operational requirements have changed significantly, and we in fleet must change our ways to ensure that we can fully meet their needs now and in the future. Fleet operations must be flexible, sustainable and resilient.”
Some of the smaller NHS Boards do currently collaborate with the larger Boards in some fleet-related areas and national procurement contracts are in place in relation to the leasing of vehicles, hire of vehicles, insurance and the purchasing of products such as fuel and tyres.
The 10,500 vehicles operated by the Boards (other than the Ambulance Service) include a large number of cars as well as a range of other vehicles from car-derived vans to 38-tonne articulated vehicles, breast screening trailers, mobile dental units and grounds maintenance equipment.
The Boards currently use a mix of vehicle funding solutions – typically leasing or outright purchase – with some organisations using both.
The review will consider the benefits of all different methods of vehicle and equipment acquisition.
A potential role for the private sector in vehicle and fleet management will be considered, as will further collaboration with other public sector organisations.
Jackson was one of the leaders of the tripartite review carried out eight years ago, where consideration was given to collaboration between the 17 emergency service fleets in Scotland. This resulted in the closure of 10 workshops and collaborative working in eight workshops.
“The review is not just about saving money, it is all about helping to improve the quality of patient care,” he said.