Following what it says was ‘the hottest summer on record’ in the capital last year, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) has launched a new carbon reduction strategy, ‘Critical Care For Our Climate’.
It aims to build sustainability at UCLH in key areas such as clinical care, procurement and supply chain, estates, technology, transport, education, and engagement.
UCLH has invested over £2 m in energy-saving measures such as LED lights, and has recently installed an additional 452 solar panels on the hospital roof, which the Trust says together ‘will save millions in energy costs over the coming years’.
The Trust said: “The NHS has set a nationwide target of achieving a Net Zero carbon footprint by 2040, but, having declared a climate and health emergency in 2021, UCLH wants to go faster and achieve a Net Zero carbon footprint by 2031.” For the emissions it can influence along its supply chain, UCLH aims to achieve Net Zero by 2040, five years ahead of the NHS England target.
UCLH says investing over £2 million in low-energy LED lights across its hospitals has paid major dividends; they use a quarter of the energy of previous lights, last longer, and will save over 1,200 tonnes of CO2 per year. The Trust added: “In 2022, we have delivered the highest number of virtual appointments of any hospital in England, helping us reduce waiting and unnecessary travel for patients. Last year we delivered about 500,000 outpatient appointments virtually, saving over 15 million miles in patient travel each year.”
Anaesthetic gases and inhalers contribute about 5 per cent of the NHS’s total carbon footprint, and the Trust says that reducing their use has ‘been a priority’. UCLH has already reduced the use of the most environmentally harmful anaesthetic gases by over 70 per cent, ‘by choosing greener alternatives’.
The new strategy will build on these achievements, focusing UCLH’s carbon reduction initiatives in four main areas:
- clinical care;
- hospital buildings, technology, and transport;
- suppliers and products used,
- and education and engagement.
Key targets include:
- Enabling lower-carbon medical treatments, and reducing waste and overuse;
- Eliminating the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels by 2031.