Environmental sustainability

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Net Zero NHS 

The NHS is responsible for 4% of England’s total carbon footprint. Contributing to:

  • Increased air and water pollution
  • Increased allergens
  • Extreme heat

All of which can cause illness, exacerbate long term health conditions and lead to poor mental health (Jones, 2022).

The NHS is leading the way on tackling the climate emergency, reflecting the significant impact our environment plays on our health and wellbeing. The NHS has the power to use innovative solutions to address the climate crisis and make a more sustainable health system. In 2020, the NHS released its report, Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service, outlining its ambition to do just that.

As a collective, health innovation networks work across different sectors, which puts us in the perfect position to support the drive for sustainability at every level. Critically, alongside finding solutions for the NHS to be more environmentally sustainable, we’re holding ourselves accountable for our own impact on the environment.

In the same year the 2020 NHS report was published, the Health Innovation Network Environmental Sustainability Community of Interest was launched. This functions as a hub for sharing best practice and finding innovative ways to collectively solve common issues.

Corporate activity

As an organisation we are aiming to align with NHS targets to achieve net zero by 2040-2045. We have recently determined our baseline carbon footprint, and have laid the foundations to monitor annually. We are also developing our organisational green plan, setting our ambitions for the next three to five years to deliver carbon savings.

Carbon Reduction Plan

An organisational Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) is one of several mechanisms that NHS Supply Chain is implementing as part of its net zero supplier roadmap, and includes details on your organisations carbon footprint (scope 1-3), net zero ambition, and carbon reduction projects.
We have now published our baseline CRP, reflecting our carbon footprint for April 2022-March 2023. Our CRP includes planned activities, targeting our biggest sources of carbon emissions – business travel, purchased electricity, and purchased goods and services. In accordance with requirements, we intend to publish annual updates on progress with our next CRP reflecting progress from April 2023 – March 2024.

Carbon Reduction Plan March 2024

In addition to our organisational footprint, we are also laying the foundations to improve sustainability assessments for the work we deliver (NHSE national and local programmes). We are embedding sustainability assessments in our project governance procedures with an aim to continuously improve sustainability metrics captured for all of our programmes. We believe environmental sustainability is a key element in all activities we deliver.

Working with healthcare providers

Within our region we support activities across three Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), South Yorkshire (SY), West Yorkshire (WY), and Humber and North Yorkshire (HNY). We are embedded across place to support identification of current challenges and develop responsive project or programmes of work. We also work closely with our regional Greener NHS colleagues to respond to regional drivers – sharing learning across place to maximise benefits where appropriate.

Our current projects include:

The Sheep Shed Green Award programme

Working in collaboration with HNY ICB we delivered a green award programme, matching green innovations with funding and support to deliver carbon reduction across the HNY region within 12 months of award. Following application, shortlisting, and interviews we awarded a combined total of £50,000 to six applicants. Our successful awards include; conversion of cooking oil into biodiesel for regional fleet, medication recycling programmes in the vale of York, and a clinical pathway manager with embedded carbon calculator to support informed decision making.

Award funding commenced in February 2023, with interim reports due in August 2023 (six months) and final reports due in February 2024.

South Yorkshire General Practice Sustainability Guide

We are currently working with SY ICB and Sheffield Primary Care Network (PCN) to develop a sustainability guide for general practice. We hope the guide will provide practical sustainable actions across the different layers – including individual practices, PCNs and Federations. One complete the guide will be implemented across Sheffield PCN, with wider dissemination considered dependent on feedback.

Innovator support

Our current innovator activities delivered by our enterprise and innovation team offer support to innovators in relation to access to the health and care system. We are currently exploring innovator requirements to support awareness and alignment to NHS net zero policy, developing additional resources in response to helping innovators on their journey into the NHS and wider health and care system.

Our current activity includes:

NHSE Sustainability Guide

In collaboration with SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative), we undertook a series of interviews with innovators engaged in NHS England innovation programmes to explore awareness and delivery of NHS net zero ambitions. We heard from a range of innovators, with differing awareness of net zero targets and sustainable practices. Feedback from innovators was compiled into a report for SBRI, with findings translated into an Innovator Sustainability Guide.

Hill Dickinson Sustainability Support Programme

We are currently working in collaboration with Hill Dickinson LLP to develop resources for Innovators to support their sustainability journey. Topics include, developing a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP), NHS sustainable procurement, and how to be confident in your green claims (Greenwashing).

For more information please contact our Sustainability Project Manager Amanda.Lilley-Kelly@yhahsn.com