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Carbon cuts save Trust £10 million

Date: 20 May 2021 to 31 December 2098

With one 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. 

New figures show that by the end of March last year, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) had slashed its total 2010-11 emissions (combined across buildings and travel) by 3,287 tonnes, or 39% - easily beating its 34% goal. 

Care Without Carbon (CWC), the Trust's ground-breaking sustainability programme, saved the organisation the equivalent of 252 people’s annual carbon emissions by spending just £1.8 million. 

In slashing carbon emissions, Sussex’s largest provider of NHS community services has saved £10 million in ten years - the equivalent of employing another 390 nurses. 

The success is detailed in the fifth annual report of CWC, which has been adopted by other NHS providers and shortlisted for the 2020 Health Service Journal Environmental Sustainability award. 

Carbon released by SCFT’s 70-building estate, which includes 11 community hospitals, 52 health centres and seven offices, was reduced by 42% by, for example, 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. 

The rapid adoption of remote working during the pandemic has also reduced carbon emissions related to Trust travel, although this has come after the reporting period. 

Cycling to and from work helped Lynne McDonald, a personal assistant at Crawley Hospital, lose nine stone and reverse her diabetes; Johnny Grimsby, an advanced nurse practitioner at Brighton General Hospital, found it took him only 10 minutes longer than driving and clocked up more than 300 miles in one month. 

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. 

Other initiatives 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.”

*Read CWC's fifth annual report, Creating a sustainable future for healthcare, here.