Disappointment for electric vehicle drivers after NHS Forth Valley restricts use of new charge points at Falkirk Community Hospital
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Twenty new electric vehicle charge points were installed at Falkirk Community Hospital last year, including two rapid chargers, and after initially being available for use by members of the public, the health board has now restricted access to these points to its own vehicles.
Motorists who use the hospital’s original 12 charge points, which are often fully occupied, are asking NHS Forth Valley to reconsider this decision and to allow the public to continue to use the new, additional chargers.
One motorist who regularly uses the points said: "This is a much-needed new charging hub, in a central location, and the restriction of only employees being allowed to use them will lead to gross under-utilisation.
“For some years now Falkirk Community Hospital has provided 12 electric vehicle charging points, free to use and accessible to the public. These have proved extremely popular with the public because there is no charge for use. Falkirk Council managed charging points are not free, and as a result hardly anyone uses council provided charging points, because the vast majority of electric car owners can charge at home, at a much cheaper cost, or they can use the free ones at Falkirk Community Hospital.
"A case in point is the large charging hub at Falkirk Stadium. Despite it being in a very inaccessible location – where you basically need two cars if you are going to leave the car on charge – it initially proved popular because it was free to use. Then in 2021 the council started charging for use, so after that hardly anyone uses it.”
In contrast, the charging points at the community hospital are well used by electric vehicle owners. The driver continued: "The provision of the new chargers at the beginning of November greatly relieved the congestion on the original chargers.
"Around the beginning of December however, without any warning, the 20 new chargers were blocked to the public and have been restricted to use by the NHS. This has led to a return to congestion on the original 12 charging points and hardly any use of the new ones. This is a terrible waste of much needed new charging capacity in Falkirk.”
NHS Forth Valley explained that the new charging points were installed to support the health board’s fleet of vehicles. A spokesperson said: “The 12 original charging points to the front of Falkirk Community Hospital remain available to patients, visitors and staff. The 20 new charging points which have been installed are to support our local fleet of NHS vans following the switch over to electric vehicles, in line with Scottish Government policy.
"These additional EV chargers were only available for public use until full commissioning for this purpose was completed and signage is being installed to make it clear that the chargers are for NHS fleet use only. It is important that these NHS vehicles have access to EV charging facilities as they are used to collect and deliver vital samples, medication and other health-related supplies across the Forth Valley area.”
NHS Forth Valley also confirmed this week that work is ongoing to bring 16 new charging points into use at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Questions had been raised by drivers as the facilities were installed over a year ago, but have been covered over and not in use since.
The spokesperson added: “The new electric vehicle chargers at Forth Valley Royal Hospital were connected to the National Grid at the end of 2022 and work is ongoing with contractors to complete the final stages of the installation and commissioning over the next few months.”