A focus on our commitment to reduce carbon emissions to coincide with COP26

Next week, senior politicians and the whole of the climate change lobby will arrive in Glasgow to attend the highest profile event in the climate change calendar, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). While attention turns to the commitments and actions of world leaders, we want to highlight the advances we are helping to achieve locally to reduce our own impact on the environment.

Back in May, we launched a comprehensive Green Plan underpinned by 12 key goals, including for cleaner air, reduced energy use, better waste management and the sustainable use of medicines. Recognising the NHS as a significant polluter, responsible for 5 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions and for 3.5 per cent of all road travel, we know we have an important role to play in reducing those emissions, particularly as we are one of the largest NHS trusts in the country.

Decarbonising heating at our hospitals

We have already started implementing major energy efficiency measures that will result in 15 per cent emissions reductions across Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals, under a £26.9 million decarbonisation fund, secured through the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The improvements are wide ranging, from lighting and boiler replacements, to the installation of an air source heat pump at Charing Cross Hospital. Heat pumps are electrically-powered, enabling us to move away from burning fossil fuels in gas-fired boilers. They work like a refrigerator but in reverse, by extracting heat from the air to provide heating and hot water across the site.

Sharing our green innovations

Innovation is at the heart of our Green Plan, alongside a commitment to continuous learning. We have a dedicated team within the Trust working to ensure sustainability is considered across all areas of our work. Green projects are being led and tested by our staff in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical areas, such as an innovation in Charing Cross emergency department led by Dr Anu Mitra, to reduce the carbon impact of unnecessary cannulation, which will be showcased as part of the NHS Greener COP26 engagement activities. 

Our staff will also be showcasing our commitment to sustainable practice at a range of events to coincide with the build-up and duration of COP26. We are taking part in Hammersmith & Fulham council’s Climate Carnival, a borough-wide programme of events and activities highlighting green initiatives in the community. This includes an in-person Climate Summit event on 28 October where Dr Gareth Thompson, ambulatory emergency care doctor and clinical lead for our Green Plan, will represent the Trust at a panel discussion aimed at encouraging local businesses to commit to reducing emissions and tackling climate change. It will be followed by a virtual event later in the day, where our sustainability lead Darshan Patel will have the opportunity to present on our Green Plan to the council and members of the public.

You can join both events virtually:

Green Surgery Conference – 4 November

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, a charity that supports the NHS and other health systems to achieve sustainability goals, has named our general surgery team as a finalist in its Green Surgery Challenge 2021. The challenge aims to provide an opportunity for the UK's surgical community to recognise the importance of sustainable healthcare for surgical conditions and to share and promote environmentally and socially sustainable ways of practicing.

As part of the challenge, Jasmine Winter Beatty, clinical research fellow, general surgery specialist registrar, will present a Trust project focused on substituting local in place of general anaesthesia for inguinal hernia repair and introducing reusable surgical gowns, during a virtual Green Surgery Conference co-hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. You can hear more about the project by joining the event:

The Green Surgery Conference – Thursday 4 November, 12:00 – 14.30

You can find out more about our Green Plan or take just one minute to let us know if you would like to get involved with our Green Plan, and to receive regular updates, including our upcoming newsletter.