Environmental Sustainability

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Achieving net zero across the system by 2035, ensuring we work in harmony with the environment and remain within the “ecological ceiling”

We have no choice but to act. Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) is committed to the goal of “net zero” and delivering environmentally sustainable healthcare.

The Integrated Care System (ICS) is aiming to increase the number of years people spend in good health and reduce the gap between the healthiest and least healthy in our community. Many different things determine our health, including the environment around us. The climate emergency and environmental degradation is doing real harm to people.

Therefore, to support good health and wellbeing, we must protect the environment and reduce our impact on ecosystems and the climate.

Cover image of BLMK ICS Green Plan

In 2022, BLMK ICB approved the ICS Green Plan. This set out a vision to be more environmentally sustainable and achieve a net-zero healthcare system within the region by 2035. In doing so, we will improve the health and wellbeing of our populations and make BLMK a better place to live and work.

A health impact assessment was published in January 2023, setting out the opportunities to improve health through the Green Plan.

For more information on what the NHS is doing to reach net zero, please visit www.england.nhs.uk/greenernhs

We need all staff to contribute to improving environmental sustainability and working towards net zero – it’s part of our work and will help us achieve a better healthcare system. We also welcome support and involvement of our residents and patients. In future, you will be able to use the buttons at the top of the page to find out more about what you can do.

Our NHS and partner organisations are all committed to working together to achieve net zero. Expand this section for links to sustainability pages on our partner websites
  • Bedfordshire Hospitals (BHFT)
  • Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS)
  • Central and North West London (CNWL)
  • East London (ELFT)
  • East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST)
  • Milton Keynes University Hospitals (MKUH)
  • Our local authorities are also committed to environmental sustainability – visit their respective sites for more information

Learn More about Environmental Sustainability in BLMK

Click here and expand each section to find out how the health service contributes to climate change, and how a better environment can improve health.
Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability matter to the health and care system because our health is influenced by a wide range of factors, including the world around us. Our physical and mental health depends on these “building blocks”, not just the healthcare we receive. A better environment makes it easier to stay healthy and recover from illness.
The wider determinants of health and the impact of climate change
The NHS in BLMK contributed 324,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2019/20. This is the equivalent to the emissions of a small petrol car driving around the Earth more than 60,000 times.

The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the NHS come from:

  • Production, transport and disposal of medicines and chemicals
  • Supply of equipment (medical and non-medical)
  • Food and catering
  • Energy
  • Travel and transport (including staff commuting, business and patient travel)
  • Medical gases such as anaesthetics and propellants in inhalers.
BLMK ICB and partners of the ICS have committed to achieving net zero and improving environmental sustainability. Download the Green Plan (2022-2025).

The commitments include:

  • Reducing the use of volatile anaesthetics, which are powerful greenhouse gases.
  • Improving the efficiency of buildings and increasing the use of renewable energy
  • Moving to more-sustainable asthma inhalers
  • Minimising the amount of travel needed by patients, staff and suppliers
  • Reducing the amount of single-use plastic used in healthcare
  • Encouraging a shift to lower-carbon diets
  • Supporting an increase in active travel and public transport
According to a 2023 Health Impact Assessment report for BLMK, climate change and pollution are having a direct impact on the health of patients, residents and staff now. Download the Health Impact Assessment to find out more about how environmental sustainability can help improve health and wellbeing.

The main areas highlighted by the report were:

  • Climate change and environmental issues such as air pollution and high-carbon diets are causing ill health and death in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes and beyond.
  • Improving air quality can reduce the risks of respiratory illnesses, stroke, cardio-vascular disease, dementia and developmental illnesses in children.
  • Moving to lower-carbon diets such as the EatWell plate can reduce the risk of excess weight, cancer, and diabetes
  • The health and care system should prepare for climate change and build resilience, including for its workforce, buildings, equipment and processes.
  • Improving environmental sustainability of healthcare can support the goals of improving health, care quality and financial efficiency.
What does it all mean? Expand this section for descriptions of some common words and concepts used in Environmental Sustainability.

Glossary:

  • Net Zero healthcare – reducing emissions associated with healthcare delivery so that no additional of greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere
  • Carbon emissions – the amount of carbon (usually in the form of carbon dioxide) emitted into the atmosphere. Often used as a short-hand for any greenhouse gas, and termed “carbon equivalent emissions” – the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that would have the same global warming effect.
  • Circular economy – a system where there is no waste. The resources that are extracted from the planet are used over and over again, in line with the 5Rs, eliminating waste.
  • 5 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Remanufacture/Repair, Renewable, Recycle. The way we can move towards a circular economy. For more information about how this can be applied, click through to further resources for staff or residents.

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