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Sustainability on the agenda for NHS

International sustainability recruitment consultancy, Allen & York have interviewed Sonia Roschnik, Operational Director at the NHS Development Unit, about the aims for a sustainable future...

Although climate change is the most serious global environmental threat, promoting a clear and transparent sustainable strategy throughout organisations can lead to cost savings – whilst also facilitating the firm to develop a competitive advantage that enables them to capitalise on environmental and energy efficiency opportunities. The NHS has already been set the challenge of making efficiency savings of between £15 billion and £20 billion across 2011 to 2014 to reinvest in year-on-year improvements in quality.

One way the NHS can make savings is by becoming more sustainable.

As the NHS is the largest single estate in Europe, employing 5% of the UK workforce, it has a very large carbon footprint of 18

million tonnes of CO₂ per year. This is composed of energy (22%), travel (18%)

and procurement (60%).

If the NHS are to meet the Climate Change Act targets of 26% reduction by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050, it will be a challenge. In order to meet its obligations under the Climate Change Act, the NHS needs to embed sustainable practices across the sector.

Sonia Roschnik, Operational Director at the NHS Development Unit, explains: “To drive the carbon reduction strategy forward the NHS SDU has put in place a Sustainable Development Management Plan, which has been officially signed off at Board level. The plan was supported by a consultative process across the NHS and the SDU were cheered that 66% of people agreed that carbon reduction and a sustainable future are of great importance to the NHS.”

So how are the NHS proposing to put these necessary changes into action?

“Emphasis is put on contributing to health, rather than treating sickness,” explains Sonia. “Home treatment would cut down on the amount of travel to and from surgeries and hospital, thereby saving on carbon miles.”

Other specific examples include tele- medicine, whereby clinical follow-ups can be carried

Editor’s comment: While changes

to the standards and operation of healthcare is imperative and will forever remain so, what

about maintenance? Sonia mentioned that “contributing to health” was a large focus, which, to me, means that cleaning and maintenance should be a high priority. An effectively cleaned hospital environment should help to keep the spread of HCAIs at bay, beating sickness at the first hurdle.

When it comes to sustainability, procurement is responsible for 60% of the NHS’ carbon footprint and CO₂ emissions. This includes many products or services, including the all important cleaning and maintenance of NHS hospitals and facilities. There are many sustainable cleaning solutions available now, but will the NHS give outsiders the opportunity to pitch for a contract? While current procedures are effective, surely this is an area where the latest products and innovations need to be regularly tested and monitored to ensure that the best possible hygiene service is provided. Therein lies a solution, but will it be THE solution? That remains to be seen.

out over the phone with your doctor and video link access is available for direct contact with specialists.

“Opportunities are also opening up to us, for example the lifting of the ban on public sector organisations to produce renewable energy,” Sonia tells Allen & York.

“However, the huge number of challenges and opportunities can’t divert us from our goal of embedding Sustainable Development Management Plans in all NHS organisations.”

The future of our cleaning industry | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | 51 HEALTHCARE & HOSPITAL HYGIENE

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