Greening the NHS

All NHS Trusts now have a Green Plan, Health Business takes a look at some of them

The NHS has the goal of becoming the first net zero health service in the world – it’s ambitious but not unachievable. A major milestone has been ticked off, with every NHS Trust now having its own Green Plan, hoping to contribute to this goal.
Sustainability commitment

Devon Partnership NHS Trust has a Green Plan, which was published in January. In their foreword, they say: “Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) recognises how important it is for us to make sure we are committed to sustainability in everything we do. Our Strategic Aims include: to make a positive contribution to our environment and make the best use of resources. We are committed to playing our part in Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service, recognising that, left unabated, climate change will disrupt care, with poor environmental health contributing to major diseases and economic disruption.”
DPT’s Green Plan sets out how the Trust will improve how resources are used, to cause the least harm to the environment and benefit staff and those who use the services. The Plan includes a commitment to update it regularly in line with changes in national requirements and local experience.
The Trust also commits to further developing a culture which has sustainability at the heart.

The first Carbon Literate NHS Hospital Trust
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has already reduced its carbon emissions by 33 per cent compared to 2014, with a vision to become one of the greenest NHS Trusts in the UK. The key focus areas of their Green Plan include: embedding sustainability across the Trust; making buildings more energy efficient; promoting active travel such as cycling, lift sharing and public transport; innovative approaches to care; sustainable medicines; reducing plastic use; waste management; sustainable catering and improving biodiversity and green spaces across sites.
The Trust can boast that it is the first Carbon Literate NHS Hospital Trust and has already invested over £20 million in energy-saving projects. Furthermore, all general waste is converted into energy and none is sent to landfill.

100 per cent green renewable energy
Leeds and York NHS Foundation Trust said: “Global warming affects everyone. If we don’t take immediate action, the adverse effects of rising global temperatures will worsen, leading to the most vulnerable groups within society, who are least able to cope, being most affected.”
The Trust aims to become carbon neutral by 2028 and the Green Plan was created to reduce the carbon emissions produced by the Trust.
The Plan includes a commitment to become carbon neutral and for staff to be a part of this, to sustainably recycle waste and develop environmentally efficient care services.
The Trust already sources energy for its owned and leased properties from 100 per cent green renewable energy and over 60 per cent of the fleet is electric.

Climate change
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust vision is ‘Together we will deliver the best quality and safest care to the communities we serve’, an important factor in ensuring that we can deliver the safest care is recognising the responsibility that we have as a health care organisation to reduce our impact on the environment as the link between climate and the NHS ambitions in becoming the world’s first net zero national health service.” The foreword to the Trust’s Green Plan highlights the climate change effects that have already been felt in the region such as higher temperatures in summer and longer dry spells, wetter winters and more frequent storms and floods. Matthew Swanborough, Director of Strategy & Partnerships said: “As a coastal peninsular, it’s imperative that we work with our system partners to ensure a combined approach not only in reducing our carbon footprint, but also adapting to the changes that are already happening.”
The Green Plan commits to resource consumption and greenhouse gas emission reductions in line with NHS net zero targets. The Trust will also reduce the environmental impact of its activities and build the groundwork for becoming a climate-change-resilient organisation.

The climate emergency is a health emergency
West London NHS Trust has the aspiration of becoming one of the greenest Trusts in London and even in the UK. They say: “The climate emergency is a health emergency. Climate change threatens the foundations of good health, with direct and immediate consequences for our patients, the public and the NHS. As a Trust, we recognise the enormous challenge that the issues of climate change, air pollution, flooding, extreme heat and waste present to West London and the impact that these issues have on our patients, colleagues and communities. The environment is changing and the pace of change is accelerating.”
Their plan has seven areas of action which each have a nominated lead responsible for setting, reviewing and updating the objectives. The seven areas of action are energy, transport, people, buildings, waste, investment and digital.
In the energy category, for example, is the goal to transition to low or zero carbon solutions for the provision of energy services, by reducing consumption, introducing new technology and utilising on-site generation.

Embrace green learning and innovation
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “As one of the largest NHS trusts serving some of the poorest communities in London, we recognise the important role we have to play in helping to reduce emissions and improve sustainability overall.”
Their plan sets out how the Trust will reduce the impact of climate change on health, reduce reliance on unsustainable services and medicines and embrace green learning and innovation.
This Trust’s Green Plan has 12 green goals covering: cleaner air, reduced energy usage, smarter travel, innovative water use, better waste management, reduced plastics, sustainable medicines, innovative care, sustainable catering, greener facilities, sustainability research and redeveloped hospitals.
Through sustainable catering, the Trust commits to a food and retail transformation programme, mapping sustainability from farm to plate. This will include reviewing supply chains, and increasing plant-based packaging and locally sourced products.

Bright future
Though the above is just a brief summary of the Green Plans from only six of the 219 NHS Trusts in England, all are detailed, comprehensive and well planned. The Green Plans are a good indication of what is to come and we can look forward to the changes they implement and the benefits they bring. The plans are convincing and with patients and staff on board, the NHS is well on the way to becoming the world’s first net-zero health service.