Soaring energy prices intensify the push for NHS sustainability
Written by Tim Greenhalgh
NHS leaders are warning of intense pressures extending waiting lists in crumbling buildings as we head towards the winter of discontent fuelled by soaring energy prices and rising inflation.
The NHS Confederation says that high energy costs are reducing the value of the NHS budget along with extra costs of pay and Covid testing for staff. It confirms that these extra costs mean the health service is this year facing a real-terms cut in funding of between £4 billion and £9.4 billion, depending on which measure of inflation is used.
These pressures are part of the reason why the NHS is required to make efficiency savings of 2.2%, which is double the requirement of recent years. It jars against the planned 3.8% annual real terms increase in NHS funding up to 2024/25 outlined in the government’s Spending Review last October.
The efficiency drive will continue to include a raft of measures to reduce energy and water use as part of a wider sustainability strategy. In July, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. This places duties on NHS England, and all trusts, foundation trusts, and integrated care boards to contribute towards statutory emissions and environmental targets.
Sustainability Supplier of the Year
SaveMoneyCutCarbon has been a part of the project to develop a greener health service and was chosen as NHS Sustainability Awards Supplier of the Year for our energy-saving work with Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH).
The work with CUH’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital demonstrates that initial costs of sustainability projects are far outweighed by the ongoing benefits, as well as the advantages of working with a trusted efficiency partner.
Richard Hales, Energy & Sustainability Manager at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that the work “provided big improvements in the quality of the hospital environment for clinical practice, patient experience, operational and administrative functionality”.
“SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s attention to detail, close customer engagement – to all the staff in the areas being upgraded – quality and care, proactivity and use of initiative and, of course, commitment to environmental sustainability have been real partnership bonuses over a plain-vanilla supply-and-install contract. These things make sustainability matter – taking projects well beyond kWh and carbon.”
New pressures on budgets mean that NHS leaders, already burdened by effects of the pandemic, are struggling to catch up on targets. They warn that funds will need to be released from existing programmes such as those designed to rollout new technologies and boost diagnostic capacity across the NHS. These key area of investment that are required to reduce the elective and cancer care backlog.
At the same time, the condition of many hospitals is causing mounting concerns. Leaky roofs and crumbling buildings are putting patients at risk, according to newspaper reports. And hospital chiefs are worried about significant delays in the plan to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
As some of the schemes are actually refurbishments and extra buildings at existing hospitals rather than new hospitals, trust leaders fear projects will never be completed and that they could have to close their hospitals as a result.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“We need the government and future Prime Minister to level with the public about the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and social care, and to do away with the myths and political rhetoric. This must include a proper acknowledgement of where the lack of investment during the 2010s have left the NHS, and the huge gulf between levels of demand and capacity. That honesty means crumbling buildings and ill-equipped and outdated estate, 105,000 staff vacancies at the last count, and a social care system in desperate need of repair and very far from being fixed as the current Prime Minister would have us believe.”
The pressures are intense and continue to mount day-by-day. As a sustainability company, SaveMoneyCutCarbon aims to be a part of the comprehensive solution. We have been working closely with Addenbrooke’s to drive forward initiatives to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. Our team has delivered 11 substantial LED lighting and lighting controls projects, with hundreds of LED lamps installed, as well as providing supply services for the hospital.
The yearly savings of £148,000 savings in electricity and maintenance are validated by a rigorous monitoring and verification programme with return on investment over a period of 4.8 years, saving 867MWh a year with annual CO2e reductions of 305 tonnes.
We successfully tendered, through the YPO framework, for NHS Improvement funding to supply and install LED lighting across the hospital, using our direct manufacturer relationships with global lighting organisations to leverage the best prices for the hospital to maximise the value of investment without compromising on quality of product.
Our focus is on saving every penny possible through energy and water efficiencies. Our free Carbon Mentor call service is open to any organisation of any size. You can book a free call with one of our Energy & Carbon Mentors. During the 30-minute Zoom consultation they will assess main operational/business drivers, answer questions and share recommendations to help save money and cut carbon. Book a call here.