NHS Blood and Transplant has adopted Michelin CrossClimate+ tyres for its 45 Ford Focus Estate rapid response vehicles.
It is the first time the organisation, which delivers life-saving blood to hospitals and donation equipment for blood donor sessions, has nominated a preferred brand and tread pattern of tyre.
It follows an extensive viability trial of the tyre which also required endorsement from Fraikin, the sole fleet management provider.
Larry Bannon, national fleet manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “When we get a call we have to deliver regardless of the weather conditions.
"Not reaching our destination because our tyres have let us down simply isn’t an option. If we don’t get there with our vital blood supplies, lives are at stake.”
He added: “I was intrigued by the idea of one tyre being capable of handling all weather conditions.
"We organised some test sets and the feedback from our drivers was universally positive, with particular praise for the superior handling and traction.”
Key to Fraikin’s decision to permit the new tyres as standard fitments was access to real-life test data from within the fleet which showed them to deliver at least the same mileage and performance as the existing tyres found on the fleet, despite the added winter capability.
NHS Blood and Transplant previously operated a mixed-manufacturer summer tyre policy, replacing original equipment tyres like-for-like once worn. Each Focus Estate travels an average of 35,000 miles each year, and is on standby 24/7 to deliver everything from blood, blood products, tissue and samples to hospitals across England.
The fleet also completes more than eight ‘blue light’ journeys per day, every day.
Bannon adds: “We’ve never needed dedicated winter tyres because the primary routes to hospitals are the first to be gritted or cleared of snow. However it’s reassuring to know that we can now count on our CrossClimate+ tyres to keep us moving should we face unexpected weather, or journeys on untreated roads.”
The tyres offer the benefits of a summer tyre for dry or wet braking, energy efficiency and total mileage, as well as the braking performance and traction of a winter tyre.