In early October, the Greener NHS team marked one year on from the publication of Delivering a Net Zero NHS, which laid out plans as the first health service to commit to net zero. Their progress report highlights the changes and steps forward, and it’s encouraging to see more than 155 trusts and Integrated Care Systems now have green plans in place or in development.
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is also just around the corner, in early November. So it’s an optimum time to think about how we can do more to maintain momentum towards the net zero goal.
The advice I’m giving health and care innovators and healthcare professionals is that numbers count. It’s important for them to think about quantifying the impact of their innovation or the change they are making on the environment, to track progress, support their conversations and prove the value of this type of innovation to a wider audience.
I’m asking stakeholders to think about their measures in different, meaningful ways. For example, kilograms of C02 saved doesn’t mean something to people outside of this space, so we should look at other things like car miles avoided, number of trees that would need to be planted to offset the impact etc.
Understanding the numbers will help us and others appreciate the impact and highlight opportunities for making more significant changes.
We have developed a simple carbon calculator to help innovators and those working in health and care calculate their impacts. To access this, you can contact your local AHSN.
We can’t deliver different results by doing the same thing
Innovation is critically important to reducing our carbon emissions; we can’t deliver different results by doing the same things we are currently doing; we need new ideas and new ways of delivering care.
Digital innovation is a pivotal enabler for helping with this carbon problem, and we know that if we change delivery models we can make an impact. Although it’s not all about digital, there are other important changes such as tackling medicines waste, reducing packaging and creating more reusable materials for use within health and care.
Industry leading the way
We work with many innovators across the Network whose innovations support a Net Zero NHS or who are trying to be more mindful about the impact their processes may have on the environment. Here are a few examples:
- B Braun is a great example of a company with an innovation that wasn’t initially designed solely as a sustainable solution but that can have an impact. Their BPMpathway is a remote assessment system that enables patients to rehabilitate from knee surgery at home. Using this technology, clinicians and physiotherapists can access real-time data on an individuals’ rehabilitation progress remotely. This can speed up recovery and reduce the number of face-to-face visits. We’re working with B Braun to measure the impact of this solution in car miles and hospital resources avoided.
- Many AHSNs across the Network work with Patients Know Best, a technology platform designed to bring together patient data from health and social care providers and the patient’s own data, into one secure personal health record. This company is looking at their own carbon footprint, in addition to that saved by patients using the platform, and ways to further reduce their carbon, something that other NHS industry providers can hopefully learn from. You can find out more about their commitment to sustainability on their website.
- We recently held a sharing and learning event highlighting innovative solutions to reduce the carbon impact of anaesthetic gases. We were joined by innovators Medclair, a Swedish company specialising in creating climate-smart Nitrous Oxide solutions who discussed their innovative approach to capturing Nitrous Oxide in maternity wards, and SageTech Medical who presented their innovative work to capture, extract and reuse anaesthetic gases in operating theatres.
Do your part and get involved in this agenda!
Health and care professionals – There needs to be demand from the system and a willingness to try new ways of working, so I’d encourage anyone with a sustainability challenge to seek support from their local AHSN. We’re also delivering quarterly sharing and learning events, which have included best practice green strategies and anaesthetic gases, with asthma inhalers planned as the next topic. These are a great opportunity to learn more about innovative solutions.
Innovators – I’ve given some examples of how we work with health and care innovators, whether that’s by advising those with sustainable solutions on how to access the NHS, looking at measuring the impact of innovations or by discussing ways to offset emissions caused during the manufacturing and supply chain process. Contact your local AHSN for an initial conversation.
AHSN colleagues – I’m passionate about sustainability issues, as are a lot of colleagues across the Network who have joined a community of interest to share ideas. I want to stress that it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to think about sustainability in everything we do. We can’t leave it to others.
I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together by this time next year!