As one of the biggest NHS trusts in London, we have a responsibility to be greener and more sustainable for the benefit of our staff, patients and the general public. In recent years, we’ve made big strides to do this and have plans on the horizon to go even further.
Since 2007, we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 39%. And we’re working hard to reduce them even further, which will be helped by positive changes we’re making, like 40% of our new patient transport fleet being hybrids.
“We’re making progress,” explains Rob Speight, Director of sustainability at Barts Health. “But we need to do more, in particular around our indirect carbon emissions.
“Indirect carbon emissions are those that come from medical, surgical imaging and radiotherapy equipment and services, dressings and more. So not activities you’d usually think would produce carbon. Right now, ours are 210,000 tonnes per year and swamp our direct emissions, those that come from activities like patient transport, energy use and waste 3:1. We have to change this.”
We’ve done a lot to reduce waste in recent years and have won two HSJ awards, recognising our efforts.
A big way we’ve done this is by pioneering a clinical waste treatment plant at Whipps Cross since 2016. This plant processes all of the hospital’s clinical waste on site, which dramatically reduces their final waste output and reduces the amount of waste going to incineration. It also saves approximately 26,000 miles in transport every year, which in turn, means fewer carbon emissions.
“Another big improvement we’ve made in reducing waste is around bulk waste,” says Rob. “We’re work with partners to reuse and repurpose big waste items like sofas and tables. And anything we can’t reuse or repurpose, we give to charities or healthcare systems in other countries, rather than send them to landfill. Altogether, this means that every year, we stop 80 tonnes of big waste items going to landfill and we save thousands every year.”
Some other achievements we’ve made in becoming greener and more sustainable include:
- Replacing 9,000 light fittings with LED lights across the trust. This has environmental benefits and saves us money in the long rung too.
- Improving cycling facilities across the trust with support from Barts Charity, including a new cycle hub at Newham, Whipps Cross and St Bartholomew’s, which will facilitate staff not taking public transport.
- Our reverse vending machines at the Newham and Whipps Cross renal dialysis units recycle ~2000 empty plastic bottles every year which equates to around 15 tonnes of HDPE plastic being recycled.
The future is green
Plans we’ve got to become greener and more sustainable include:
- Publishing our new Green Plan and Active Travel plan in the New Year, which will outline what we need to do and how we’ll do it
- The new Whipps Cross redevelopment is planned to be carbon-neutral from day one
- Working to invest in Newham Hospital to de-carbonise it completely from burning fossil fuels
“We’re making progress, but we’ve still got more to do,” says Rob. “Becoming a greener trust is a big task but it is everyone’s responsibility. Each and every one of us can do a little bit to make a real difference and I encourage you all to think about what you can do and share you pledge with others."