FTA, the business group representing the logistics sector, has awarded QE Transport (QET) of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust with Van Excellence Operator Certification, the first van fleet operator to receive certification remotely under COVID-19 physical distancing rules.

Van Excellence, an industry-led scheme promoting the safe, sustainable and efficient operation of vans, recognised QET’S commitment to keeping its drivers, passengers, sensitive cargo, and other road users safe through the adoption of best practice and a dedication to compliance.

Sharon Mitchell, Head of Consulting and Standards at FTA, comments: “While social distancing rules mean the Van Excellence team are unable to undertake physical audits, the need for vans to be operated safely and efficiently remains the same; fortunately, the combination of technology and our team’s expert eye and knowledge have made remote audits possible. We are so pleased to grant QET of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust its Van Excellence Operator Certification, and, given the pivotal role of the NHS during the pandemic, it is an honour for us that it is first to receive remote certification.

“The team at QET have shown they are committed to achieving high standards in sustainability, safety and operating competence; we were delighted to present this certification to them and look forward to working with them on their ongoing journey to maintaining excellence.”

The company’s 30-strong van fleet transports medical and confidential resources for the Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, including time sensitive blood products.

Paul Bowmaker CMILT, Head of Transport, QE Facilities – Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, comments: “Receiving Van Excellence Operator Certification is a huge achievement for our team; as a specialised transport operation, we want to be associated with a nationally recognised transport body to best promote our ongoing commitment to ensuring best practice in all aspects of our operations.

“Giving the restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic, we found the remote audit service ideal. The process was seamless and professional throughout and the remote auditing team were extremely knowledgeable and helpful, taking the time to guide us through the full audit process to help us achieve the certification. Although face to face visits and on-site visits are not permitted during the pandemic, communication via online conferencing was helpful and efficient. We of course look forward to developing our relationship with Van Excellence moving forward in the future.”