Bottled water ditched from menus by environmentally-friendly Suffolk trust

West Suffolk Hospital cuts back on waste as part of wide-reaching new sustainability plan

West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has announced plans to drop bottled water from its menu, invest in new recycling facilities, and explore opportunities for sending old equipment to developing countries as part of a drive to slash carbon emissions.

The proposals are outlined in its recently-published Sustainable Development Management Plan , which identifies ways of slashing energy use and emissions by 10% by 2015.

Entitled The Way Forward, Low Carbon Healthcare , the plan will be overseen by a sustainable development steering group and will see emissions reduced by 754 tonnes from a baseline of 7537.63 tonnes in 2007.

As one of the largest employers within the community, and one of the greatest contributors to carbon emissions, we recognise the importance of this trust developing a plan which is robust while providing a benchmark for other public sector businesses to uphold as the gold standard

Stephen Graves, trust chief executive, said: “As one of the largest employers within the community, and one of the greatest contributors to carbon emissions, we recognise the importance of this trust developing a plan which is robust while providing a benchmark for other public sector businesses to uphold as the gold standard.

“We are fully committed to this aim and will support all stakeholders both internal and external in helping us to achieve these objectives.”

The report adds: “The trust recognises that the environment we live in directly affects health and that a healthier environment will benefit the whole community. A lot of work has already been started and progress has been made, however as an organisation the trust wants to lead by example and become a more environmentally-aware organisation.

“The trust aims to minimise the adverse impact on environment, economic and social sustainability from all activities carried out within trust sites. It will strive to improve its environmental performance to reduce pollution and global climate change”

Over recent months the trust has introduced a number of new energy-saving measures including appointing sustainability leads across the organisation; ensuring building works are assessed for both the long and short-term risks associated with climate change; reconsidering its flood safeguards; putting in place plans for extremes of weather, fuel shortages and utility failures; and raising the awareness of sustainability among staff and patients.

But the report also sets out future intentions, which will provide a benchmark for other trusts to follow. These include:

  • Investing capital in energy- efficient technology and replacing out-of-date plant and controls with energy-saving options
  • Working with suppliers to improve supply chain sustainability and minimise waste and energy use
  • Introducing new recycling facilities to divert waste from landfill
  • Working with Aid to Hospitals Worrldwide to look at opportunities for money-saving alternatives to waste disposal while helping healthcare providers in developing countries overseas
  • Reducing emissions from travel through the introduction of efficient vehicles, new cycling facilities and by reducing patient travel
  • Changing behaviour by encouraging staff to take a more pro-active role in sustainability
  • Removing bottled water from menus
  • Explore energy-efficient lighting and insulation opportunities
  • Encourage home working opportunities for staff
  • Encourage the use of sustainable food through local producers where possible
  • Develop a task force to support and review all new estate developments with a view to reducing the impact they have on the environment

The plan states: “UKCIP {formerly the UK Climate Impacts Programme} provides scenarios that show how the climate might change. The East of England is likely to face hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters and will see a significant decrease in soil moisture content, more frequent extreme high temperatures, and extreme winter precipitation. There will also be increased storminess and wind speeds, a rise in the net sea level, and an increase in sea storm surge height.

The health service and the public need to be ready for these expected climate changes, particularly vulnerable populations and those disadvantaged by health inequalities

“These changes are likely to increase the incidence of heatstroke and dehydration during heatwaves and could lead to a higher incidence of sunburn and skin cancers, along with possible changing patterns of disease and injuries and death caused by extreme weather-related events. Indirect effects extend from the mental health effects of flooding to disruption in the supply chain of food - its quality and quantity - energy, clean air and drinking water.

“The health service and the public need to be ready for these expected climate changes, particularly vulnerable populations and those disadvantaged by health inequalities. “

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