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NHS carbon reduction plan launched

31 January 2013

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A major consultation to create a sustainable development strategy for the NHS, public health and social care system has been launched.   

Revealed at Guys and St Thomas hospital in London, the Sustainable Development strategy consultation aims to cut carbon emissions by 10% by 2015 to meet government targets.  

“We know what to do, we’ve seen all the evidence, but now we have to do something about it,” said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England who launched the four month consultation with NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson and NHS Confederation Chief Executive Mike Farrar. 

Figures from the consultation document show that GP prescriptions and pharmaceuticals have the biggest carbon footprint accounting account for more than 3.5 million tonnes of CO2, nearly a fifth of NHS England’s carbon footprint.   

Sonia Roschnik, operational director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) said CCGs can do a lot to be more sustainable.   

“Some of the changes are things they can do with buildings and patients, but some of the changes will be about how they can commission for sustainability, for example asking their providers to do things differently or to look at things more holistically.”    

Roschnik said that medication is not necessarily the right treatment in every case, adding that “sometimes things like exercise work better”.   

National director for patient and public affairs, Joan Saddler said that CCGs must choose their priorities carefully.   

“It’s really about lining up what they want to do with what they have to do, because we know that resources are short,” she said.   

She added: “If CCGs manage to align sustainability with personalised, sustainable healthcare it will be really fantastic.”

The NHS was set the target of reducing its 21 million tonne carbon footprint.    

The SDU, set up in 2008, will publish the results of this consultation next January.