SCAS manages driving risk more effectively with DriverCheck

Monday, 12 June, 2023

• Jon Porter, Driving Standards Manager

• SCAS Ambulance

South Central Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has been able to manage its considerable occupational driving risk more efficiently and cost effectively having switched to fully electronic and automated licence checking with DriverCheck for its pool of over 3,600 drivers and 1,200 vehicles.

South Central Ambulance Service is one of just 10 NHS Ambulance Trusts in England, covering four counties - Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire and a geographical area that stretches from Milton Keynes in the north to Portsmouth on the south coast.

The Trust also provides a range of emergency, urgent care and non-emergency healthcare services, along with logistics services plus non-emergency patient transport services across Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Sussex, serving a population of six million people.

Huge vehicle fleet

To cope with such a huge and diverse workload, SCAS operates a mixed fleet of around 1,200 vehicles. These comprise of around 380 frontline blue-light ambulance response ambulances and solo response cars, mainly Mercedes Sprinters, Fiat Ducatos and Skodas, some 580 Patient Transport vehicles and around 280 company cars and vans, plus a number of HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) vehicles and some special response units up to 7.5 tons.

Because of the nature of the work which is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, shift patterns of 8-10 hours are the norm, with potentially up to three drivers per vehicle at times - hence such a large pool of qualified drivers, explained Jon Porter, Driving Standards Manager.

"Our drivers' licences are checked every three months to ensure they are entitled to drive the class of vehicle they are required to. As you might imagine, before employing DriverCheck, this was a huge manual task, often carried out by a large number of team leaders and supervisors across the organisation.

"It was very hard to keep track of whether the required checks had actually been carried out on time or to the required standard, and the opportunity for errors was considerable. Now, our system is completely paperless and drivers complete the registration process via e-declaration rather than physical forms.

"DriverCheck manages the whole process which takes the burden away from us completely and not only cuts down on admin time and staff resources, but is far more cost effective. It has proved to be an absolutely fantastic service," said Porter.

Performance monitoring

SCAS staff are also monitored on a performance basis with the Driving Standards Department responsible for the post-accident management of anyone driving under SCAS insurance.

He receives regular reports from DriverCheck as part of the managed service, with email alerts highlighting any drivers approaching disqualification territory.

"They also identify any drivers whose photocard licences are in danger of lapsing and reaching the end of their 10-year lives, when the licence and photo need renewing. Failure to do so can result in a £1,000 fine so this has proved to be a very welcome additional benefit of the service," added Porter.

Yvette Giannini, Head of Operations at Glasgow-based DriverCheck, said that fully electronic automated licence checking was vital to manage the road risk associated with such a large and diverse, multi-functional fleet.

"Given the nature of the work that SCAS carries out, at all hours of day and night, the associated risk factor is high. To ensure that the Trust meets its duty of care responsibilities to not only its drivers, but the larger community, having drivers with validated licences for the class of vehicle they are driving is paramount from a risk management point of view.

"Automatic updating through the DriverCheck client portal dramatically reduces the chances of error, as well as cutting the amount of admin time required, and ensuring duty of care is being met at all times," she said.

DriverCheck is part of Ebbon Group's Compliance Division which, with Derby-based Licence Check, is now the UK's largest driving licence checking and vehicle compliance business with a combined 1.6 million licence checks per annum.

Both businesses operate as stand-alone entities with separate teams and brands, with DriverCheck providing managed services including licence checking and grey fleet services, and Licence Check offering packaged risk and compliance solutions through its award-winning DAVIS platform.

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