Net Zero Week: delivering sustainable healthcare in south east London

06 Jul 2024
NHS South East London

In 2020, the NHS became the first national health system in the world to commit to delivering net zero. The NHS accounts for around 4% of the UK’s carbon emissions, so we have a significant role in meeting the net zero targets under the Climate Change Act.

For emissions that the NHS can control directly, our target is net zero by 2040. For emissions that we can only influence, the target is 2045. While these deadlines may seem distant, there is much to do and numerous opportunities and collaborations to explore.

Listen to our Programme Manager, James Colley, highlighting the progress we are making locally to achieve our Net Zero goals.

Planning to achieve net-zero

Since 2020, our hospital trusts have been working towards sustainable healthcare and net zero. When our Integrated Care System was formed in 2022, we developed a three-year Green Plan for the entire south east London health system. This plan outlines 122 objectives across 11 focus areas, including air quality, travel and transport, improving our estates and facilities, and making our clinical and patient services more sustainable.

Who’s involved in the south east London Green Plan

Our objectives are shared across our hospital trusts, primary care, and our Integrated Care Board, involving many of our NHS colleagues. Some staff are dedicated to sustainability work, while hundreds of others incorporate it into their everyday roles. These objectives also intersect with existing programmes, such as our medicines optimisation and digital transformation initiatives.

Delivering the south east London Green Plan

As we reach the end of year two of our plan, we have 85 live objectives, with significant progress made on 67 of these. Here are some of the incredible achievements by our colleagues and partners:

  • Introducing low emission and electric vehicles into our fleet
  • Providing facilities for staff and patients to walk, cycle, or wheel to our sites
  • Deploying e-bikes for NHS teams delivering home healthcare
  • Reducing the use of high-emission anaesthetic gases and asthma inhalers
  • Minimising single-use plastics and textiles, such as gloves and theatre hats
  • Switching to LED lighting
  • Implementing strategies to reduce food waste
  • Increasing recycling rates
  • Ensuring our suppliers are equally committed to net zero

These accomplishments are just the beginning, thanks to the remarkable efforts of our colleagues across the system. Together, we are making substantial strides towards a more sustainable future for healthcare in south east London.