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with the aim of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The report recommends researching ways

of identifying and tackling key “carbon hotspots” such as patient travel and pharmaceuticals and improving ways of measuring carbon emissions within the NHS and its suppliers. In 2008, NHS Lothian was among the first

Scottish health boards to sign up to the Carbon Management programme and receive a £700,000 grant from the Central Energy Efficiency Fund. The programme provides tools

reduce its carbon footprint by four per cent in each of the next five years which would unlock funding of more than £600,000 that could be reinvested in clinical services.

“ Everyone in the NHS should think about reducing their carbon footprint”

for analysing energy consumption and workshops to show staff and managers how to effectively use carbon management in their day-to-day work. The board was subsequently awarded the

Carbon Trust Standard in March 2011 for having cut its emissions by 5.3 per cent in the previous two years. New energy-saving measures included using recycled rainwater in the laundry at one hospital and installing solar panels to preheat domestic hot water at a new health centre. The board also started an energy saving drive in 2011 to encourage staff to be more energy efficient. The board hopes to

Practical steps Practical guidance is available for NHS decision- makers in the 2009 guide Sustaining a Healthy Future – Taking action on climate change [Special Focus on the NHS] which offers “action checklists” on how they can reduce their organisation’s carbon footprint. It offers tips on how to become a “Good Corporate Citizen organisation” through measures such as “increasing green spaces and plants within the care environment”; encouraging health visitors to promote the benefits of walking and cycling;

“redesigning patient care and treatment pathways” to make them more environmentally friendly; and holding a “carbon audit” to involve friends and family in the fight against climate change. Various committees, schemes and strategies

have been devised by the NHS in recent years to cut carbon emissions. The NHS Sustainable Development Unit, established in 2008, was one of the first official bodies set up to monitor the health service’s carbon footprint and contributed to the creation of the NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy. The 2008 Carbon Reduction Commitment is a mandatory energy

efficiency scheme that will affect the majority of NHS hospitals. Compliance is rewarded with a top spot in annual performance league tables while penalties may be handed out for failure to comply. Elsewhere, the NHS Reuse Programme was

set up by University College London Hospitals NHS FT to reuse old office furniture and equipment across the NHS instead of it being thrown away or put into storage. Technology also has a role to play in reducing carbon emissions. Over the next five years, the Department of Health (DoH) in England says it will work to bring telehealth and telecare to millions of people with long-term conditions. The telehealth initiative involves patients using electronic equipment at home to monitor vital health signs such as pulse, weight and blood oxygen levels which can be read remotely by health professionals. Telecare involves installing electronic equipment in patients’ homes to support independent living. Examples include personal pendant alarms worn around the neck, door alarms and bed sensors to detect unexpected movements. Both programmes can help minimise travel

to and from practices and hospitals as well as easing pressure on other resources. The DoH admits take-up so far has been slow in England with only around 5,000 telehealth users signed up and 1.5million pieces of telecare in use. But hi-tech healthcare is also increasingly being used in other parts of the UK and it’s hoped it will bring financial, environmental and patient care benefits for the NHS.

Joanne Curran is associate editor of FYi

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