With the new government being committed to a low carbon and eco-friendly economy, the NHS was set the challenge of making efficiency savings of between £15 billion and £20 billion across 2011 to 2014, in order to reinvest in year-on-year improvements in quality. The government is committed in helping the NHS achieve these savings by ensuring it is less bureaucratic, with a streamlined and sustainable national framework, promoting greater efficiency throughout.

One way the NHS can make savings is by becoming more sustainable. The NHS has a carbon footprint of 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year, comprising of energy (22%), travel (18%) and procurement (60%). Based on these figures, meeting the Climate Change Act targets of 26% reduction by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050 will be a challenge.

The NHS has the means to make a huge difference to sustainability in the UK; employing of 1.4 million people, with an annual budget of over £100 billion and one of the largest property portfolios in Europe. According to David Nicholson, NHS Chief Executive, the health service has a ‘responsibility to tackle its carbon footprint’.

The NHS has pledged to reduce carbon emissions as outlined in the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s Carbon Reduction Strategy, published January 2009. Furthermore, an interactive website was launched in November 2009 by the Sustainable Development Commission showing how health professionals can help save money and make the NHS more sustainable.

The Good Corporate Citizenship assessment model shows how to help NHS trusts make significant efficiency savings and benefit patients, communities and the environment by reducing waste and energy consumption in operations and procurement, and making decisions that help prevent illness.

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