As the UK marks Clean Air Day (16 th June) the George Eliot Hospital Green Plan is set to play its part in helping the NHS cut more than 1m tonnes of C02 emissions in the next three years – the equivalent of taking 520,000 cars off the road.
One of more than 200 new green plans put forward by NHS trusts across England, the plan by George Eliot Hospital sets out how it will reduce its environmental impact and help the NHS reach net zero by 2040.
Jenni Northcote, Chief Strategy Improvement and Partnerships Officer said: “Air pollution alone is contributing to 1 in 20 deaths in this country a year, it is clear we are facing a health emergency as well as a climate emergency.
“We want to act by example and our Trust Green Plan is making that commitment to tackle climate change, and we are proud that we have set out the positive actions we will take to reduce our impact on the environment and to contribute towards safeguarding the future health of our families and local communities.
Our journey to net zero will mean changes in the ways we provide care, we will be listening and involving our workforce, partners, and local people to deliver our plan.”
Initiatives at George Eliot Hospital include greater agile working for office staff to reduce commutes, introduction of electric vehicle charging points and investigating the feasibility of solar panels to produce electricity. Other measures involve increasing the number of recycling bins on site and recycling of food waste. The Trust has set targets to reduce business mileage by staff by 10% and to reduce general waste by 5% each year. The hospital is also working closely together with local health partners to develop plans over the next three years.
The Green Plan builds on steps already taken to reduce George Eliot Hospital’s impact on climate change. Successes include a renewably sourced electricity supply, a new cycle to work scheme and we are already using smart LED lighting, which reduces energy use.
Dr Nick Watts, Chief Sustainability Officer at NHS England said:
“The NHS was the first health system in the world to commit to net zero and the outstanding innovation and commitment from George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust is a vital step towards achieving that aim.
“Doing our bit on climate change will directly improve public health and reduce health inequalities, cutting deaths caused by air pollution and ensuring a healthier future for our children.”
Modelling for the carbon footprint is set out in the annex of the Delivering a Net Zero NHS Report, published in 2020 when the NHS first made the commitment to net zero
Figures for annual emissions from vehicle usage (68Mt in 2019) and the number of cars on the road (32.7m) to work out average emissions per car on the road
A report by Imperial College London found that London’s poor air quality led to more than 1,700 hospital admission for asthma and serious lung conditions between 2017-2019.
Recent research by the Clean Air Fund found that if current and proposed government policies are implemented, air pollution could be reduced to WHO-aligned levels across the majority of the UK by 2030 and as a result there would be 3000 fewer cases of heart disease, and children across the country would suffer an average of 388,000 fewer days of asthma symptoms
A report by the Environment Agency found that air pollution is the single biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, shortening tens of thousands of lives each year