The NHS released its report Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service in October 2020. The report sets out the NHS ambition and plans to reduce the environmental impact of the delivery of health and care services and reach net zero carbon emissions.

As the biggest employer in Britain, the NHS contributes to the equivalent of 4% of England’s total carbon footprint. The effects of climate change caused by carbon emissions such as air pollution, increasing allergens, extreme heat, water quality impacts, to name a few, can exacerbate long term conditions and lead to poor mental health.

The NHS has the power to use innovative solutions to tackle existing sustainability issues and concerns. Industry and innovators can also work to consider and build sustainability into innovation concepts and products, to help us work towards net zero carbon emissions.

The role of the AHSNs

The AHSN Network is unique in working with industry, academia and the health and care system in local, regional and national settings. We are perfectly positioned to support the drive for environmental sustainability at every stage and every level and support the development and uptake of innovations that support this crucial agenda.

In 2020 we started an AHSN Network Environmental Sustainability Community of Interest, which brings together members from across the Network to share best practice and collectively work to solve common issues. We are also working on a shared strategy to ensure we maintain momentum and can hold ourselves to account.

AHSN Network Delivering a Net Zero NHS events

The AHSN Network Environmental Sustainability Community of Interest are hosting a series of sharing and learning events that aim to share best practice innovations and initiatives to support delivery of a Net Zero NHS.

  • The first event in the series provided an overview of national ambitions and strategies, as well as learnings from Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospital which has established a successful environmental sustainability strategy and culture.
  • The second event focused on reducing the carbon impact of anaesthetic gases, covering policy, examples from several clinicians discussing their experiences of reviewing their anaesthetic practices and making impactful changes, and industry innovators presenting their solutions for extracting/capturing anaesthetic gases in operating theatres and maternity wards.
  • The third event focused on reducing the environmental impact of asthma inhalers, covering NHS policy on inhaler use and pharmacy inhaler recycling schemes,  reducing the over-use of SABA inhalers and reducing the carbon footprint of inhaler prescribing in Primary Care.

If you are interested in accessing recordings of these events, please email

Support for your sustainability plan and ambitions

If you are an NHS organisation or innovator and would like to access support, contact your local AHSN.

You can sign up for our AHSN Network Newsletter for national updates on this work.