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Pedal power drives improved service and greener deliveries

This article is more than three years old.
Pedal and Post riders: Rich, Dani, Toby and Founder, Chris

A cycle courier service delivering medication to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is improving patient care and delivering sustainability benefits.

The Trust has teamed up with private healthcare firm Baxter Healthcare, which produces cancer treatments and parenteral nutrition from their Oxford site, to provide a more efficient way of getting key medical products to hospital sites and patients.

The scheme involves products being delivered to wards, day treatment areas, and pharmacies at the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford by bicycle. Goods will be delivered to the Horton General Hospital in Banbury in the future by e-motorbike.

Patient-specific chemotherapy, antibiotics, and intravenous nutrition products are made at Baxter's compounding facility in sterile conditions, ready to be used within a short timeframe between the product being ordered and then received by the hospital.

Local Oxford-based company Pedal and Post make the deliveries using cycle couriers to get the products to Trust sites. More than 25,000 products have been delivered since the first delivery was made at the start of August 2020.

By introducing this service, the time it takes for products to leave Baxter’s compounding facility in Cowley to arriving at the hospital site has halved from:

  • 30 minutes to 15 minutes for the John Radcliffe Hospital
  • 20 minutes to 10 minutes for the Churchill Hospital

Bhulesh Vadher, Chief Pharmacist at the Trust, said:

"This is a fantastic example of collaboration and innovation between the Trust, Baxter, and Pedal and Post, helping to deliver a more efficient service and the best possible care for our patients.

"The transport of chemotherapy from Baxter to our hospital sites is no longer dependent on factors outside of the company's control, such as peak hour traffic, flow of traffic onto the hospital site and roadworks.

"That unpredictability was putting pressure on NHS staff to deliver chemotherapy treatments in a timely manner, and it was also impacting our patients' experience throughout treatment.

"The new bike courier service has taken away all the unnecessary extra pressure on NHS staff and has considerably reduced the delivery time. Using bikes instead of cars or vans is also better for the environment and the Oxfordshire community."

The eco-friendly improvements deliver an estimated saving of up to 10 tonnes of Carbon emissions (CO2 eq) per year, as well as improving air quality by eliminating the tiny particles of pollution produced from diesel engines, which benefits public health as well as the environment.

Pedal and Post uses three cyclists, who have specially constructed cargo bikes and trailers to place the critical medical products in, for deliveries. All medical products are stored in temperature-controlled packaging to ensure product integrity throughout the journey.

Previously, one van carried out several runs between hospital sites. The three cyclists now make five or six runs daily, directly to the hospital.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at the Trust, said:

"Being able to halve the time it takes to get medication to the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals is a very welcome achievement, and we are looking forward to improving delivery times to the Horton General Hospital in the future as we work towards a greener NHS.

"Having a more effective and time efficient delivery system in place helps us support our hardworking staff and deliver the best care possible to our patients."

Rachel Trace, UK Country Lead at Baxter Healthcare Ltd, said:

"We are pleased to have been able to work in partnership to help the Trust on this project, and it is great to see the additional benefits this service has provided.

"Baxter is committed to play a part in helping the NHS meet their carbon emission reduction targets. As well as this new cycle delivery service we have a number of initiatives in place to help deliver sustainable healthcare across our organisation."

Chris Benton, Managing Director at Pedal and Post, said:

"This has been an exciting opportunity to showcase what cargo bikes are capable of and I'm extremely proud of the Team at Pedal & Post with how successful the project has been.

"It demonstrates how moving to emission free courier services can actually improve patient care while also tackling the climate emergency, promoting active travel, improving local air quality, and congestion.

"The reception from patients and the wards to us in our blue cycling jerseys has been really positive, and we're hoping to expand on this success with the NHS Trust in the future."