As the UK marks Clean Air Day (16th June) the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) Green Plan is set to play its part in helping the NHS cut more than 1m tonnes of C02 emissions in the next three years – the equivalent of taking 520,000 cars off the road.

One of more than 200 new green plans put forward by NHS trusts across England, the plan sets out how health and care organisations across Norfolk and Waveney will reduce their environmental impact and help the NHS reach net zero by 2040. 

John Ingham, Chief Finance Officer at Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Executive Lead for the Norfolk and Waveney ICS Green Plan said: "With air pollution alone contributing to 1 in 20 deaths in this country a year, it is clear we are facing a health emergency as well as a climate emergency. 

“Our Green Plan is a testament to our staff's commitment to tackling climate change, and we are proud to set out the positive actions we will take to reduce our impact on the environment and safeguard the future health of our children and grandchildren." 

The green plans lay out how the NHS, which contributes approximately 3.5% (9.5 billion miles) of all road travel in England, will make this travel greener. Smarter buildings, LED lighting and energy saving measures are also reducing emissions and saving NHS organisations money, while using intravenous anesthetic instead of gas and helping patients use inhalers more efficiently are improving patient care.

Green initiatives across the Norfolk and Waveney health and care system include:

  • Working with local providers to reduce the number of patient journeys required for appointments which helps reduce the carbon footprint. These include virtual outpatient appointments; using Advice and Guidance and pre-referral triage schemes to reduce hospital appointments, and developing Patient Initiated Follow Up schemes to reduce hospital visits for follow-up appointments

  • Building staff awareness of the environmental impact of their work processes and where carbon reductions can be made by reducing the number of emails sent, particularly with large attachments. The CCG is working to reduce the number of emails it sends by 50% by August 2022.
  • The CCG supports the change to environmentally friendly “greener” inhalers which could reduce user’s carbon footprint by the equivalent of driving around 1,740 miles a year. These dry powder inhalers are more environmentally friendly than the traditional metered dose inhalers as they do not use powerful greenhouse gases to propel the medication into the patient’s lungs. As a result, greener inhalers have an estimated carbon footprint equivalent of just 20g per dose compared with 500g in metered dose inhalers.

Dr Nick Watts, Chief Sustainability Officer at NHS England said:

“The NHS was the first health system in the world to commit to net zero and the outstanding innovation and commitment from the Norfolk and Waveney health and care system is a vital step towards achieving that aim.  

“Doing our bit on climate change will directly improve public health and reduce health inequalities, cutting deaths caused by air pollution and ensuring a healthier future for our children.”