Department of Health and Social Care
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Europe's biggest employer - The NHS - pledges to cut its carbon footprint

Europe's biggest employer - The NHS - pledges to cut its carbon footprint

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by The Government News Network on 29 May 2008

The NHS, the biggest employer in Europe, today committed to reduce its carbon footprint.

The NHS currently contributes approximately 3 per cent of England's total carbon dioxide emissions. The Carbon Reduction Strategy, published today for consultation, commits the NHS to reduce these emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 in all areas, including procurement, travel and building energy use and sets out ways that this can be achieved.

Launching the strategy at Kentish Town Integrated Health Centre in London, Health Minister Ivan Lewis said:

"Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our health and well-being.

"As part of our commitment to sustainable development we will work with the NHS to enable organisations to reduce their carbon footprints. Climate change also has real health implications, and so we are taking action to help people adapt to our changing climate.

"Climate change is happening on our watch - it will be our legacy. We must all work together to tackle this global problem."

The NHS is responsible for over 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and is the largest public sector contributor to climate change. The Strategy shows where NHS carbon dioxide emissions are coming from and then proposes actions for reducing that carbon footprint.

The Chief Executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, said:

"The nature and the scale of our business in the NHS means we have a responsibility - as well as a unique opportunity - to play a leading role in the climate change agenda for the benefit of patients and the public.

"It is up to us to challenge ourselves, so the scale of our ambition to tackle carbon emissions matches the scale of our opportunity. This consultation is an important next step on that journey.

"To provide practical support to organisations in doing this, we have established a new NHS Sustainable Development Unit. This will help build on the work we are already doing - over half of all NHS Trusts are now registered on the NHS Good Corporate Citizenship Assessment Model - adding fresh ideas and impetus.

"I am confident we can rise to this challenge and I look forward to every leader and member of staff playing their part in another achievement the NHS can be proud of."

Proposals suggested within the strategy include: all NHS bodies to have a Carbon Management Strategy by 2009; organisations to report annually on their sustainable development progress; and for the NHS to recycle 75% of its waste by 2020. The Strategy is a draft for consultation and people are encouraged to respond by 21st August.

The Strategy is the first output of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit which is hosted by NHS East of England.

Chief Executive of NHS East of England Neil McKay said;

"Our unit was created to provide the leadership, support and ammunition that NHS organisations need to take sustainable development into account in their day-to-day business. This is the first of a series of strategies that will take forward a sustainable development programme in the NHS.

"I would encourage anybody - doctors, nurses, patients, visitors - to put forward their views as part of this consultation."

Notes to editors

1. The NHS is responsible for over 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and is the largest public sector contributor to climate change. This includes energy used for power and heating in buildings, and also takes into account the journeys that the NHS generates and the carbon emitted in the manufacture of the products bought and used by the NHS.

2. Saving Carbon, Improving Health: A Carbon Reduction Strategy for the NHS in England - a consultation document can be found at and closes 21st August 2008.

3. The NHS Sustainable Development Unit was established on April1st 2008 by the Office of the SHAs in England.
The roles of the unit are to:
a) to be a source of leadership, expertise and guidance concerning sustainable development to all NHS organisations in England.
b) raise awareness across the NHS as to the important responsibilities of, and actions for, the NHS regarding sustainable development and climate change. This includes promoting a culture of measurement and management which underpins carbon governance.
c) help shape NHS policy, locally, nationally and internationally that makes promoting sustainable development and adapting to and mitigating climate change as easy as possible for every NHS organisation.
d) ensure the very best practice and innovations on sustainability in the NHS and elsewhere are evaluated and costed and the mechanisms for implementation are made fully available to other NHS organisations.
e) work in partnership with the NHS, government, industry and the third sector to achieve the above.

The unit is run under the auspices of the Office of the SHAs (OSHA) on behalf of the SHA Chief Executives. It is hosted by the Strategic Health Authority in the East of England in Fulbourn, Cambridge. The Accountability of the Unit is through the CEO, Neil McKay and to the CEO of the NHS, David Nicholson.

4. The UK Government has committed itself to take action now, and is legislating in the Climate Change Bill a new target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels, with a minimum reduction of 26 per cent by 2020.

5. Kentish Town Integrated Health Centre is a £10 million new facility built with an energy reduction design including:

* Night and day cooling via vented window apertures and intelligent roof vents
* Externally insulted roof and highly insulted walls
* Solar powered wind catches to maintain air flow
* Part grey water system
* Modular cascading boilers and intelligent Building Management System to manage energy reduction
* Solar reflective glass and reflective window blinds

Handover of the building to the PCT is set for December 2008 and is currently ahead of programme.

This building is considered to be some 12 times more efficient than the previous Kentish Town Health Centre.

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