Towards a green NHS

Mon 12 Mar 2012

Now’s the time to make your NHS organisation greener, says Stephen Heard, MiP national committee member and sustainability expert.

This is Climate Week, when we put the spotlight on sustainability. We are also gearing up for the first NHS Sustainability Day on 28 March.  So here are some tips and links to help you get the sustainability show on the road.  

What is sustainable development?
The Sustainable Development Commission defines it as ‘the integration of environmental, social, political and economic considerations and impacts within decision-making’. 

And in the NHS
The NHS nationally has a carbon footprint of 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, composed of energy (22%), travel (18%) and procurement (60%).  Despite increased efficiency, the NHS carbon footprint has increased by 40% since 1990. 

The NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy for England, ‘Saving Carbon, Improving Health’, was launched in January 2009.  It sets out the NHS pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, with intermediate targets of 10% reduction by 2015 and 26% by 2020. 

Sustainable development is included in the pre-authorisation process for Clinical Commissioning Groups and the application process includes signing up to the following statement: "CCGs are committed to promoting environmental sustainability through their actions as a corporate body as well as a commissioner"

If you know of a good project, why not nominate it for the NHS and Health Sector Green Apple Awards for environmental best practice.  The closing date is 30 June.

No need to reinvent the wheel
The NHS Sustainable Development Unit has a wealth of information, resources and guidance for the completion of Sustainable Development Management Plans. Check out their 5 to survive leaflets.

The Good Corporate Citizen is a tool produced by NHS SDU and the Sustainable Development Commission to help trusts contribute to sustainable development in their local economies.   

The Faculty of Public Health makes a good business case for sustainability. Traditionally Directors of Public Health have taken the lead on sustainability for PCTs. It will be interesting to see how the restructuring of public health will impact on this.

NHS Reuse is a secure web-based system for recycling furniture and equipment in the NHS, delivering financial and environmental savings. 

The NHS Sustainable Procurement Forum allows the exchange of knowledge, views and experience on all aspects of sustainable development relevant to procurement, commissioning and commercial activities across the NHS. 

The Conclude Consultancy  has used occupancy analytics to study outpatient facilities for Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, testing whether space could be better utilised to reduce energy and clinical equipment.

The NHS Forest initiative is an innovative project to increase trees and green space on NHS estates, bringing health benefits for staff, patients and the local community.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), the professional body for procurement, has a section dedicated to sustainability. Their trade magazine Supply Management has useful information on sustainable procurement, ethical sourcing, corporate social responsibility and supplier diversity.

The clock is ticking
The first UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) has been laid before Parliament and individual reports are available here.  It looks at the predicted consequences of climate change on society, the economy and the environment.  Detailed analysis has been carried out over 100 impacts across 11 key sectors, including health.

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (previously known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment) is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme covering all organisations using more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity (equivalent to an annual electricity bill of about £500,000). You can find out where your organisation sits in the CRC league table

And finally
I’m fanatical about sustainability and I’m happy to help. I’m available for sustainability presentations ranging from a 10 min board presentation through to a detailed 4 hour sustainable procurement training session. Contact me on for more information.


Join MiP

As specialists in healthcare management we provide expert employment advice and representation and fast access to legal services to make sure you are treated fairly. You also receive our quarterly magazine and have access to leadership networks.

Reasons to JOIN MiP >

FDA Portfolio

MiP members get all the benefits provided by our sister unions. FDA has launched a portfolio of benefits offering a range of discounts, legal support and financial advice. Click through from the MiP members' area for details.

Employment rights

We provide a range of advice and information for healthcare managers on issues that affect your employment. We produce factsheets and briefings to keep you informed about your rights and opportunities.

Find out more >