Green hospital depicting net zero NHS

Net zero: NHS trust unlocks dramatic carbon savings with simple switch

A simple switch in nitrous oxide delivery has unlocked net zero and financial savings for Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH).

A staff group at the trust, made up of medics, estates professionals, porters, and sustainability experts, examined how the trust was using nitrous oxide in 2022.

The group decided to decommission three cylinder manifolds and replace them with portable nitrous oxide cylinders in all their theatres.

At older hospitals, a significant amount of nitrous oxide emissions – which are approximately 300 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide – are due to waste from manifolds and old piping.

“This is a really positive step forward…”

After three weeks of training, three-quarters of the trust’s staff were able to use the new cylinders, in turn cutting emissions by 2% and releasing £7,000 in annual savings.

RUH says the move reduced nitrous oxide usage from two million litres a year to just 13,500 litres.

Director of estates and facilities at RUH, Brian Johnson, said: "This is a really positive step forward in our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint at the RUH.”

Staff have shown enthusiasm and interest in the net zero agenda, which is important as changing behaviours is key to the success of many sustainability projects, added Johnson.

The trust highlights that Entonox is still available for mothers in labour should they need it.

Abigail Mann, a clinical fellow in anaesthesia at RUH, added: "Anaesthetic gases currently make up 2% of the NHS's carbon footprint and N2O is responsible for a 80% of this, so it has been brilliant working alongside so many different colleagues at the RUH whose expertise and energy has helped to make this switch to a more environmentally friendly way of working so seamless."

To find out more about how the NHS is driving towards its net zero goals, sign up to National Health Executive’s dedicated event, where leaders from across healthcare will discuss everything from funding and business cases, all the way to retrofitting and transport.

Image credit: iStock

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