Government could 'save NHS millions' through sustainability backing
The NHS could free up significant funds for front-line services if the Government lends its support to Trusts to develop low-carbon measures.
This is the call from the independent NHS Sustainability Campaign in its third annual Impact report, which provides an overview of sustainability progress in the UK’s healthcare system.
The campaign insists that Government backing and funding could “save the NHS millions in years to come”.
Campaigner manager Scott Buckler said: “This report demonstrates the important role estates and facilities teams play in ensuring we have an NHS fit for the future. As we approach the NHS’s seventieth birthday we must ensure we have a plan for the next seventy years and beyond.”
Sharing best practice
The report highlights a range of sustainability leaders within the NHS community. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, for instance, has reduced its carbon footprint per patient contact by 12.1% since 2014. This was achieved through a series of energy efficiency measures such as boiler flue gas economisers, BMS optimisation, steam tap replacement ang PC monitor power down.
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust expects to save around £1.2m each year thanks to a carbon management plan, while Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust reduced its water consumption by 15% - which equates o more than 100 million litres of water - in the first year of its AquaFund grant scheme.
Ministers are urged to meet with leading Trusts to establish how best practice can be shared nationally.
“We are calling on the Government to listen and learn from the examples in this report and support Estates teams as they continue to deliver financial savings across the NHS," Buckler said.
The health sector has taken great strides to embed sustainability into its business model. Research suggests that an online tool could save the NHS more than £400m while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by one million tonnes each year by 2020 and providing health benefits to patients.
A host of Trust sites have begun implementing low-carbon measures to reduce emissions and generate economic savings. Scarborough Hospital's new low-carbon energy centre, which includes a combined heat and power (CHP) unit, is set to deliver savings of more than £9m and almost 32,000 tonnes of carbon reduction.
Oxford University Hospitals benefited from a finance procurement system that partnered the Trust with companies that could replace aging heat and power infrastructure with a combined heat and power system that would generate massive economic savings.