Celebrating our success
21 April 2021
By Hayley Carmichael
Care Without Carbon has reached the end of phase one of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions. It’s been an amazing five years and we can’t wait to get going in the next five.
A busy five years working towards a greener NHS
With 1 in 20 vehicles on our roads relating to healthcare it is no small task to reduce our carbon footprint; but as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, that is what every NHS Trust is tasked to achieve.
At Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust we have been working hard to reduce our carbon footprint for the past five years through a programme of work we developed called Care Without Carbon which was the follow up to our successful 12% by 2012 programme.
Taking 2010/11 as a baseline year, through Care Without Carbon we have slashed carbon emissions (combined across buildings and travel) by 3,287 tonnes, or 39%, comfortably beating our 34% goal by 2020.
The total spend on CWC has been £1.8, which in cutting carbon emissions has saved in the region of £10 million – the equivalent of employing another 390 nurses.
The fifth and final CWC Annual Sustainability Report for this first phase of the strategy covers in detail the achievements of the programme. When the new strategy is in place the team will begin a new phase of reporting.
The success in reducing the carbon footprint of SCFT has been a combined approach to tackling carbon across the organisation, with a focus on buildings and travel. Our 70-building estate, which includes 11 community hospitals, 52 health centres and seven offices, was reduced by 42% by, for example, by buying 100% renewable energy and using computer software to control essential equipment like ventilation and heating.
Emissions from the Trust’s fleet of vehicles is now at a historic low thanks to the use of low-emission vehicles and electric bikes, while a successful engagement campaign has encouraged staff to walk, cycle or use public transport to travel to work. Feedback from staff has been positive with many reporting feeling healthier and enjoying a better journey to work.
Some 1,800 staff, or 38% of the total, have also ‘Dared to Care’ by taking a small action of their choice to support wellbeing, environmental improvement and financial savings. The dares are individual actions but collectively can add up to real change.
Other areas of improvement have included trying to eliminate the use of high-volume single-use plastics and selling items no longer required by the Trust on Sussex Police’s eBay account, saving £3,800 in disposal costs and generating £3,600 in income in just four months.
Susie Vernon Associate Director of Sustainability said: “The team is now working on the next CWC strategy to take us to 2025. This will include a 51% carbon reduction target as well as an ambition to meet net zero carbon by 2040. These are tough targets but we know that a healthy environment supports healthy people, and in meeting these challenging targets we are further supporting the long term health of our communities”