Sustainability and our Green Plan

Sustainability logo 2020

How we’re becoming a greener, more energy efficient Trust

A sustainable health and care system delivers high quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing ecological damage. Over the last 10 years the NHS has become a world leader in the response to climate change and has reduced its emissions by 30%

As a Trust we have a responsibility to act on what is both a climate and health emergency.

We are working to reduce our own carbon footprint, be more energy efficient and cut down on waste and we want to make sustainability an integral part of our culture and day-to-day operations.

There are huge benefits from this, not just for our planet, but for the continued health and wellbeing of our staff and our local communities. For example, air pollution is linked to killer conditions like heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, contributing to around 36,000 deaths annually.

 

Our Trust Green Plan

In 2020 we formed a Sustainability Group made up of committed staff from a wide range of roles. They have been looking at areas including procurement, recycling and a how in our clinical work we can encourage the use of more sustainable equipment and supplies.

The group has been engaging with staff to develop our strategy and encouraging a greener outlook.

The work done so far has helped us to develop our: Green Plan 2021-2024 (click to open) [pptx] 3MB

Launched in November 2021 it will support the best, most efficient and forward-thinking healthcare and reflect the greener ambitions of the wider NHS. The plan addresses our responsibilities, impact, proposed actions and the next steps we will take to reduce carbon, waste, water consumption, single-use plastics and improve air quality.

Sandra Iskander, Deputy Director of Strategy said: “Sustainability is an incredibly important subject and one that our staff are very passionate about. Our goals are not just limited to reducing carbon emissions. We want to consider social and economic impacts such as enhancing wellbeing and reducing inequalities. To achieve our own targets, and those of the wider NHS, we must consider a well-rounded approach to delivering sustainable healthcare.”

 

What we achieved so far

  • We have introduced new recycling bins across our two hospital sites
  • We have put training in place to raise awareness of the most efficient ways to deal with waste
  • By switching to e-payslips (in January 2022) we will be making huge savings in paper, printing and postage costs
  • Our anaesthetics and theatres teams have made plans to reduce the use of harmful greenhouse gases in their work, and to re-structure their recycling plan
  • As a Trust we are switching to renewable energy tariffs (something we could also look to do at home)
  • In partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society we have also begun the planning phase of our wellbeing garden at University Hospital Lewisham. The garden, as well as helping staff, patients and visitors combat stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression, will also help to improve air quality for our local community.

 

Making your own Green pledges

Our staff are making 'Green Pledges' that will have an impact both at work and at home. These include:

  • Not printing documents unless its 100% necessary  
  • Eat less meat - trying the vegetarian and vegan options at our staff restaurants
  • Bringing a reusable ‘keep cup’ for takeaway coffee/hot drinks
  • Drinking tap water instead of bottled
  • Unplugging chargers that are not in use and turning off any non-essential equipment
  • Turning off lights as they leave the office
  • Using the new recycling bins around the Trust in public and staff areas
  • Using our Trust shuttle bus to travel between our University Hospital Lewisham and Queen Elizabeth Hospital sites instead of driving
  • Choosing public transport, walking or cycle more
  • Switching off the engine when parked or waiting
  • Signing up to an energy provider offering a green tarrif - using solar, wind or hydroelectric power.

 

National awareness and ambitions

In 2020, the NHS set two net zero emissions targets, with the aim to become the world’s first net zero national health service. The two targets set are:

  • For the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), we will reach net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032
  • For the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), we will reach net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039.

Delivering upon the targets will be a huge challenge, and every area of the NHS needs to act to achieve the target. The greatest reductions can be made in hospitals, but change will be required across the whole system.

At the COP26 climate change (November 2021) conference in Glasgow the ‘NHS Care for the Future’ gallery was prominently displayed. It featured some great initiatives from Trusts such as the carbon neutral patient menu being introduced at St George’s Hospital in south London. This one idea, where waste food is recycled and converted into energy, has already generated enough electricity to power 55 homes for a month.They also shared the story of a Newcastle mum who was her first person in the UK to use  climate-friendly pain relief and the pharmacy team at the Royal London Hospital reducing waste in medication.

You can find out more on  Greener NHS ambitions and the outstanding work being done to cut carbon emissions by  Trusts all around the UK.

We’ll be sharing sustainability pledges on our Trust social media so follow us to keep up to date on developments.

Please contact us on email: lg.sustainability@nhs.net if you have any questions.

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