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Bristol’s NHS Trusts tackling climate change together

Last updated: 28/10/2021

Bristol’s NHS trusts are renewing their efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030, in the run-up to COP26.

North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust were among the first NHS organisations in the UK to join the international movement to declare a climate emergency two years ago.

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges, such as increased use of PPE plastics, but also prompted greener transport and technology. 

Now joined by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, the three organisations are renewing their bid to lead the way locally to tackle climate change and the effects on the health of our population.

Harnessing the huge enthusiasm of more than 30,000 staff the three organisations are taking action on:

  • single use plastics, such as in wards, operating theatres and catering;
  • recycling and disposal of waste;
  • greenhouse gas impact of anaesthetics;
  • energy use for heating and lighting;
  • energy from sustainable sources;
  • water use;
  • vehicle emissions from staff and patient travel and goods deliveries;
  • sustainable food sourcing;
  • enhancing our green spaces and encouraging nature-based wellbeing activities
  • encouraging staff, patients and local residents to lead greener, healthier lives.

Maria Kane, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust said: “In some ways, the pandemic has made sustainability harder for the NHS in the short term, such as increased use of plastics for masks and tests. But it’s also made us think much more creatively about how we can change our services and our approaches for the better. I truly believe that the NHS can be a huge force for good in improving the lives of everyone around us and I want to harness the enthusiasm of our staff to create lasting change within our Trust and beyond.”

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust, said: “Renewing our efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030, alongside our fellow NHS Trusts in Bristol and the surrounding area, is a clear and positive commitment to tackling climate change and its effects on the health of our population.

“The NHS is uniquely placed to make a huge difference both by taking action ourselves and by encouraging the community to protect the environment and help us prevent avoidable illness.

“Since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, in addition to taking actions against single-use plastics, recycling, waste disposal and staff vehicle emissions, we’ve sought to address the environmental impact of anaesthetic gas by switching to lower carbon alternatives and invested in sustainable heating and energy for our site.

“Our staff are already involved in many ways, from taking more sustainable transport options to get to and from work, to looking at the changes they can make, however small, to be more environmentally-friendly in their areas of work.

“By working together to take action on climate change, we’ll improve the health of people right now and for future generations to come.”

Simon Truelove, Deputy Chief Executive for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, said: “I’m delighted that we have joined our NHS Trust partners in this ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2030. Climate change is a major threat to public health and we hope that our actions and commitment will inspire others to take similar action.

“Since declaring a climate emergency we have introduced a number of measures which have significantly reduced our carbon footprint, including switching the majority of our sites to a renewable electricity tariff, the introduction of electric bikes for staff who need to visit patients, and installing solar panels on a number of our buildings.  This activity was supported by a £4.5 million grant from Salix, a government funded organisation, which assists public sector organisations by funding carbon reduction projects. This kind of investment has made a real difference to what we have been able to achieve to reduce energy consumption. However, we know we have to do more and need to ensure that this work is in every part of every day business.”

Ned Maynard, senior energy and sustainability manager, tells us about some of the work that's been going on over the last two years.

Consultant anaesthetist Mat Molyneux talks about how we've reduced our use of desflurane, one of the most common anaesthetic gases with 60 times the environmental impact of other less harmful greenhouse gases.