An open letter from John Webster, Interim CEO at NCH&C
This week, global leaders are gathering in Glasgow for the UN climate change conference, COP26. The purpose of this event is to ensure that the UK, and the rest of the world, are moving towards the necessary actions to tackle climate change.
Many experts consider COP26 to be a decisive moment for the health of the planet: if we can't turn the tide on climate change now, we may miss our opportunity.
With that in mind, we thought it was important to update you on what is being done about sustainability and green issues at NCH&C.
As the UK works towards reducing its carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement (the legally binding framework to keep global warming under two degrees), the NHS has an important role to play. The NHS is currently responsible for 4-5% of the UK's carbon footprint but is committed to reducing this as part of the NHS Long-Term Plan.
The Long-Term Plan outlines the NHS’s goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 51% by 2025, and ultimately become the world’s first net-zero national health service.
NCH&C is committed to playing its part in helping the NHS meet these objectives. Not just because we are bound to do so, but because it is the right thing to do for the health of our patients, as well as the planet. The NHS recognises that the climate emergency is a health emergency, directly linked to killer conditions like heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, contributing to around 36,000 deaths annually.
While the trust has always considered sustainability a high priority, we are currently engaged in producing our first long-term Green Plan. This three-year strategy will outline how NCH&C can reduce its carbon emissions, considering areas such as waste, energy, travel, hospital services, procurement, and the medicines we prescribe.
This will be published in March 2022, along with the Green Plans from our partner organisations within the Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care System. Tackling climate change requires a joined-up and structural approach, so we will be working closely with the rest of the ICS to be as effective as possible. Once finished, our Green Plan will be available to you, so we remain transparent and accountable on sustainability.
We know that many of you will be keen to hear what the trust is doing to be greener and may have your own ideas about how your service area can operate more sustainably. We welcome these whole-heartedly. In the coming months, we’ll be creating a webpage and Intranet page to help you find out more, but for now you can submit your questions and comments to our dedicated inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no magic cure for climate change, so the green agenda must remain a long-term priority for NCH&C and the NHS. While there is much work to be done, the trust has already taken steps to operate more sustainably.
So far, we have reduced our:
- CO2 output by almost 1000 tonnes on our energy (gas, electric and oil) consumption alone, achieved by a combination of disposal of underused estate and upgrades to LED lighting and removal of all oil-fired heating.
- waste output by over 200 tonnes, including reducing our landfill waste from 232 tonnes a year to 0.
- vehicle mileage by almost 1.4 million miles a year.
- water consumption by 7,800 m3 and wastewater production by 4,200 m3.
As we continue our journey towards a net-zero NHS, we will keep you informed about any updates through the usual comms channels. We rely on your support to create a greener NHS together.
John Webster, Interim CEO