Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has launched an ambitious ‘Green Plan’, setting out its response to tackling climate change. It comes as the trust has been awarded a £26.9m government grant to help improve the energy efficiency of its buildings and operations.
The NHS is responsible for 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and 3.5% of all road travel. At the same time, climate change has been recognised as having a negative impact on health, particularly in deprived areas, exacerbating health inequalities. As one of the largest NHS trusts serving some of the poorest communities in London, Imperial College Healthcare have recognised the importance of helping reduce emissions and improve sustainability overall.
The Green Plan sets out a framework for how the trust will reduce the impact of climate change and pollution on health, reduce reliance on unsustainable services and medicines, and embrace ‘green’ learning and innovation. The plan is underpinned by 12 green goals for the organisation, including achieving cleaner air, a reduction in energy use, and smarter travel.
The decarbonisation grant - secured as part of the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme - will be used to reduce emissions by more than 15% at the trust’s Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospital sites. This will include installing an air source heat pump at Charing Cross Hospital, reducing the consumption of natural gas by extracting heat from the air to provide heating and hot water across the site.
Professor Tim Orchard, Chief Executive at the trust, said: “The climate change crisis has real implications for the health and wellbeing of our staff, patients and local communities. We embarked on our carbon reduction journey back in 2009 and have already invested £10.4 million across a range of energy efficiency projects which have helped to reduce our carbon emissions by nearly 25%. Securing the decarbonisation grant is a huge boost to our efforts and a great start to implementing our first comprehensive Green Plan.
“We know many of our staff are really concerned about climate change and engaged in developments with a sustainability focus, from transforming our renal services to enable dialysis at home, to our cycling-to-work scheme and going paper-free. We want the Green Plan to harness that energy and mobilise everyone involved with the trust to support more, high impact initiatives.”
Poor air quality is a major public health risk, linked to life threatening cardiovascular and respiratory diseases like asthma, stroke, lung cancer, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as diabetes, dementia and stunted development in children. The plan aims to target this by using the trust’s reach and resources to improve the local environment, and tackle other social and economic issues that widen health inequalities.
Dr Bob Klaber, Director of strategy, research and innovation said: “I’m particularly excited about our partnership with Imperial College London and its Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment which will help us translate the latest academic research into practice.”
Delivery of the Green Plan will be based on continuous learning and innovation, with every element co-designed with staff and wider stakeholders. The trust has established a new ‘green team’ who will co-ordinate and measure the impact of green activities. A report will be published annually on the progress.
For more on the trust’s Green Plan click here.