Net zero

National sustainability plan launched by net zero trailblazers NHS Orkney

The Balfour Hospital in Scotland have launched a new national strategy designed to make the NHS more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Operating only on electricity, Balfour is Scotland’s first low-carbon modern hospital with air-to-water heat pumps producing all of the building’s hot water and heating. The hospital also uses solar panels to reduce the NHS’s reliance on the grid.

The NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy focuses on five key areas:

  • Sustainable Buildings and Land
    • Reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from NHS buildings by at least 75% by 2030
    • All NHS buildings to be using renewable heating systems by 2038
    • All of NHS estates to be net zero by 2040 or earlier
  • Sustainable Travel
    • Ensure that all NHS small and light commercial vehicles are powered by renewable alternatives by 2025
    • Stop buying or leasing large fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030
    • Remove all fossil-fuelled vehicles out of its fleet
    • Create 20-minute neighbourhoods – places where everything that a person needs in their everyday life is located within a 20-minute walking radius
  • Sustainable Good and Services
    • Only procure products that been designed for durability, can be recycled at the end of their use, and can be repaired and upgraded
    • Establish a circular economy and limit environmental and social impacts of the supply chain
  • Sustainable Care
    • Develop a methodology of assessing the environmental impact of different models of care
    • Develop Clinical Decision Support tools that will promote shared decision making
    • Reduce the emissions from metered dose inhalers by 70% by 2028
    • Reduce emissions from anaesthetic gases
  • Sustainable Communities
    • Encourage improvements in planning, housing and transport that acknowledge the harmful impacts of climate change
    • Ensure that health inequalities in different population groups are not widened

Annual reports detailing the progress the strategy is making will be published from next year.

During a visit to Balfour Hospital, Scotland’s Secretary for Health and Social Care Humza Yousaf, said: “Our approach will help us to build on the great work which has already been done to accelerate our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and become environmentally sustainable.

“As well as the environmental impacts, I am also very mindful of the recent increase in energy prices, and there is a clear benefit in reducing energy use and increasing efficiency in everything we do. To achieve the transformational change that is necessary we need to establish a culture where resources are safeguarded and used responsibly.

“With that in mind I have been really impressed with what I have seen in Orkney. The team here are driving forward innovative ways to ensure they have low carbon emissions.

Continuing their work as net zero trailblazers, NHS Orkney, who preside over Balfour, are further reducing their carbon footprint through a trial of an onsite treatment facility that handles low risk clinical waste, which was previously handled on the mainland.

Michael Dickson, Chief Executive of NHS Orkney Chief Executive, said: “We have been delighted to show Mr Yousaf around the fantastic facilities we have here in Orkney. It is testament to the whole community how committed we are to building a sustainable future.

“We are proud to be leading the way in new hospital and healthcare buildings with sustainability being at the forefront of planning."

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

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