NHS Sustainability Day 2013; A reflection of achievements

On March 28th healthcare organisations from across England threw their support behind NHS Sustainability Day. The Day of Action was an opportunity for NHS organisations to celebrate sustainability with a wide range of events and to launch new ‘green’ initiatives to make as many people, staff and patients, aware of the difference sustainability can make to public health and the long-term future of the NHS. Up and down the country, Trusts, Hospitals and healthcare organisations were pulling out all the stops to shout about their work to address carbon reduction whilst showcasing how sustainability can and is making a difference where they are.

Southend University Hospital were motivating their staff by running a poetry, rap and rhyme competition. Staff and their families were set the challenge of devising a rhyme about anything green, including climate change, travel, recycling or energy saving. Aside from the rhyming, travel plan coordinator, Caroline Hanghong was encouraging staff to ‘Switch Off’ unused lights, computers, monitors, TVs, Heaters and fans. This was carried out through poster campaigns within the Hospital which aimed to remind staff to turn off unused equipment or lights which in turn reduced energy costs and provide a more sustainable workplace.

Over in Buckinghamshire ,Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, supported the NHS Sustainability Day of Action by planting two trees at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in conjunction with NHS Forest, which is a national project designed to engage people with their immediate environment by jointly creating space that will be used and continually improved by staff, patients and the local community.

The Trust used the day to kick-off its commitment to improve the external courtyard spaces throughout its sites to make them more inviting spaces for patients and staff to use, whether that be as part of rehabilitation for patients or a quiet space for staff to enjoy during their breaks.

Angela Sinclair, architectural designer, property services, said: “We were delighted to support this important initiative, which not only benefits the environment but helps improve the wellbeing of patients and staff. This is only the starting point of our aim to improve and develop our courtyard spaces across our sites and we would welcome interest from any members of the public or local business community who might like to offer up their time or other resources to join us in achieving this aim.”

Prior to the NHS Sustainability Day of Action, staff from across the Trust were invited to suggest which courtyard they would like to see developed and how would they like the space to be used.

At Duncan Macmillan House in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire Healthcare, the county’s leading integrated healthcare provider planted two trees to mark the Trust’s commitment to helping ensure a more sustainable future and highlighting the planting programme already carried out by the Trust as part of its participation in the NHS Forest Project. In addition, staff were able to view and test drive a Vauxhall Ampere electric car, and electric bikes.

The day provided an important opportunity to raise awareness of reducing the Trust’s carbon footprint and how staff, service users and partners can get involved in helping to achieve this.

The Trust has already made significant progress in becoming a greener, low carbon organisation, with its work recognised nationally.  The Environment Agency has recently placed the integrated healthcare provider 33 out of 2098 organisations from the public and private sector, scoring highest out of the entrants from other NHS Trusts in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Performance League Table.

Simon Smith, Executive Director of Local Services and Sustainability Lead for the Trust, said: “We are delighted to be participating in NHS Sustainability Day for the second year running. This provides a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of this very important matter and to provide information and ideas on how energy usage can be reduced and alternative options available. It is also a chance to acknowledge and celebrate the excellent work achieved across the Trust so far and to share future initiatives.

We encourage people to come along and find out more about how the Trust is ensuring it delivers greener, sustainable and environmentally friendly services now and in the future.”
The UK’s healthcare sector spends more than £400 million per year on energy, and that is without taking into account other costs such as waste, water, travel and procurement. One Trust has worked tirelessly for many years to ensure they lead by example when it comes to sustainability. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, who were participating in their second annual NHS Sustainability Day, ensured there was much for people to discuss including:

  • No tax cars provided by Hendy Ford
  • Electric and hybrid cars supplied by Renault
  • Velocity bikes – showing a range of different specifications of bikes available
  • Veolia – our waste distributors
  • EDF energy – providing ways to save energy
  • Portsmouth City Council – looking at personalised travel planning
  • Handy tips and facts on ways to save energy and manage waste both at home and in the work place

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust have implemented a range of incentives to reduce their energy consumption and cost; introducing waste recycling schemes, alternative travel options to work, as well as staff awareness and cost saving tips for energy consumption.

They are actively working with staff to promote energy and waste reduction awareness and staff from many departments across the organisation have volunteered to be ‘carbon champions’. NHS Sustainability Day saw Portsmouth launch a Staff Pledge to encourage all staff to think about where they could be doing more, as well as providing Carbon Reduction Handbooks for our staff so see what we have already done.

“Back in 2008 our carbon footprint was 77,344 tonnes which has decreased to by over 10%. The energy is based upon what NHS staff, visitors and patient’s use, so it is important that we spread the message about saving energy not only to our staff, but also those who use our services,” says Glen Hewlett, Director of Development and Estates.

‘In 2012-13 we implemented a number of carbon reduction initiatives – our most successful has been waste segregation. We have recycled 160 tonnes of cardboard at a £13,000 reduction in cost to the Trust, we introduced recycling bins to clinical and non-clinical areas and this has diverted 19 tonnes away from the domestic waste stream. Most recently we have implemented different colours bags and containers for segregating clinical waste into infectious and offensive waste resulting in lower costs by diverting waste away from high temperature incineration. Simple things really do make a difference!”

The North West London Hospitals hosted an event in the canteen at Northwick Park Hospital, including a sustainability quiz with prizes, top tips on how to reduce carbon emissions and an appeal for staff to come forward and act as “energy champions” in their departments and wards. Representatives from Low Carbon Europe, who support the day, provide a wide range of services to NHS Trusts to help them use energy more efficiently and reduce their carbon emissions.

“The NHS has set itself some really challenging targets in terms of carbon reductions,” said Low Carbon Europe’s Director of Operations & Strategy, Doug Bailey.
“These events will help raise awareness of how staff, patients and members of the public can play their part. Sustainability is not just about how much energy we use. It’s about the type of goods we buy, the way we travel and how we dispose of our waste.
“And as energy prices continue to rise, sustainability can also play a key role in lowering bills and saving us all money,” added Mr Bailey.