Sustainability – creating a greener NHS

“We believe that all healthcare organisations should aspire to delivering care in a way that eliminates harmful environmental impacts and puts sustainability at the heart of the business model” Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive

We take sustainability, and in particular climate change, very seriously at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. Not only in terms of how we operate as an organisation, but also in relation to the health of our communities.

We are already seeing the impact of climate change, both on a global level and locally in the UK and Sussex. In particular the increase in extreme weather events such as heatwaves and flooding has impacted NHS Trusts across the country, affecting both the health of our communities, and our estate.

NHS Trusts must not only adapt to this change in our climate, but we also have a real part to play in mitigating the impact of climate change by cutting our carbon footprint, not least because the NHS is one of the largest public sector contributors to carbon emissions in the UK.  We use energy to heat and power our buildings, we travel great distances to deliver our services and we produce waste which needs to be disposed of.

All of these issues result in impacts on both the environment and our people (both our patients and our staff), which we are firmly committed to reducing. At Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust we do that through our dedicated sustainability programme called Care Without Carbon.

Care Without Carbon - Our vision of sustainable healthcare

Developed by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Capita, Care Without Carbon provides a multi-award-winning framework for delivering sustainable healthcare that has patient care at its heart.

It sets out a clear commitment to become a zero-carbon healthcare provider, which will involve:

  • Utilising 100% renewable energy
  • Recycling or reprocessing 100% of our waste
  • Eliminating the use of non-renewable resources

The Care Without Carbon approach identifies seven areas where we need to take action between now and 2020, including: buildings, journeys, procurement, culture, wellbeing, climate change adaptation and leading change through governance. You can read the full strategy here.

Watch Gareth Baker, our Director of Transformation talk more about Care Without Carbon.

Dare to Care

One of our seven action areas deals with staff culture, because real and lasting change only happens when people make it happen.

To encourage staff to get involved we developed the Dare to Care campaign - an easy and fun way for people to become engaged in making Care Without Carbon an everyday reality.

The campaign is centred on our website www.carewithoutcarbon.org and is primarily aimed at NHS staff, although the wider community can sign up via the website. We launched at Sussex Community Trust in February 2015. In the first year more than 500 staff signed up to over 2,000 pledges, driving change across the board from environment to wellbeing. Following the success of Dare to Care at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, the campaign is now being adopted by other healthcare organisations across Sussex.

Over time we see Trusts and NHS organisations from across the country joining together to Dare to Care; the more NHS people we have working together, the bigger the impact we can have collectively on wellbeing, the environment and of course the bottom line. If you’re interested in getting involved please get in touch.

Although this is a staff facing campaign, the website is open to the public, giving the opportunity to link in with our wider community. This is something we will explore in the future – because sustainability isn’t just about how we look after our resources, it is about how we look after ourselves too.

This short video explains why we choose to Dare to Care.

Delivering on our commitments

We set ourselves a target to reduce our carbon footprint by 15% by 2015 and we are delighted to have exceeded that, reaching an 18% absolute reduction. In addition, by 2015 we also achieved:

  • Cost savings of £3.6million
  • 24% reduction in electrical and fossil fuel energy consumed
  • a 500,000 mile reduction in Trust business mileage and 19% reduction in fleet vehicle emissions
  • 65% non-healthcare waste recycled and zero general waste to landfill. 

Now we’re looking to our 2020 targets, including a key goal of reducing our footprint by 34% in line with national requirements.

We believe in being robust and transparent in how we share our information on our performance. We are currently developing a reporting mechanism to reflect the seven steps of Care Without Carbon. In addition, leading climate change consultancy Ricardo conduct an annual validation of our environmental reporting. Download the annual validations reports here:

With Care Without Carbon we aim to further improve our performance and between now and 2020 we will work towards achieving that.

Working together

Tackling climate change is a collective effort. 60% of the NHS’s carbon footprint comes from procurement and so we are also committed to working with our supply chain to reduce environmental impacts outside of our own organisation.

Watch this video to see how we’re working with one of our suppliers Ottobock who make prosthetics to improve their approach to sustainable healthcare.


Awards and Accolades

We took an exciting new approach when we developed Care Without Carbon, which addresses all aspects of running a busy NHS Trust both clinical and operational. We’re delighted that it has been recognised as an exemplar model for sustainable healthcare, receiving a number of recent awards:

  • Accounting for Sustainability Finance For the Future Award 2015 - WINNER
  • IHEEM National Sustainable Achievement Award 2014 - WINNER
  • Health Service Journal Awards 2012: Good Corporate Citizenship Award - FINALIST
  • Health Business Awards 2010: Environmental Practice Award - COMMENDED
  • Health Service Journal Awards 2011: Good Corporate Citizenship Award - WINNER
  • Climate Week Awards 2012 - FINALIST
  • STEM Blue Level Award for Environmental Management

Find out more

We have a dedicated team that works within our Estates and Facilities department to develop and deliver Care Without Carbon.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about our award-winning work on sustainability:

Will Clark 
Director of Environmental Services
Tel: 01273 242064
Email: will.clark@nhs.net

For all media enquiries please contact our Communications team on 01273 242096 or email scftcommunications@nhs.net