Hull’s hospitals have declared their intention to be a UK leader in tackling the NHS’s impact on climate change.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (HUTH) is setting the ambitious target of becoming the first hospital trust in England to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Now, the trust – which runs Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull Women and Children’s Hospital, Hull Eye Hospital and Castle Hill Hospital – is outlining its “Zero Thirty” plan.
Chief Executive Chris Long said: “Our target is ambitious but we are sending a strong message to the rest of the world that we intend to do whatever is necessary to overcome the climate crisis.
“The Humber is one of the coastal regions officially listed as high risk due to rising sea levels and increasing flood threat. Ninety per cent of our city lies below the high-tide line and the devastation caused by the 2007 floods is fresh in all of our memories.
“We will not stand by and do nothing. Our plans have already begun and we’re determined to do whatever it takes to accomplish our aims.”
The NHS has a massive impact on the environment and is responsible for more than five per cent of the UK’s total emissions, the same as emissions from 11 coal-fired power stations.
Net zero will be achieved when the amount of carbon emissions produced by the trust is balanced by the amount the organisation removes from the atmosphere.
To achieve “Zero thirty”, HUTH will
- Insulate roofs and external walls to reduce heating loss
- Slash building emissions in half by 2028
- Replace gas-fired boilers with air source heat pumps
- Use wind power to supply its offsite electricity
- Promote low-carbon travel for staff, patients and visitors and reduce business travel
- Send nothing to landfill by 2025
- Reduce anaesthetic gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2025
- Work with sustainable, ethical and local suppliers
- Remove single use plastics in all areas without a clinical need
- Reduce packaging
- Increase online appointments to reduce unnecessary journeys to hospital
- Harvest rainwater
The trust was awarded a £12.6m grant recently and has already started projects aimed at offsetting its carbon footprint.
Emissions from energy use have been reduced by 25 per cent already through energy efficiencies and 20,000 light fittings are currently being replaced by SMART LED lighting at Hull Royal and Castle Hill, as well as other hospital buildings around the city.
A ground-breaking solar panel field in Cottingham, expected to generate all of the hospital’s day-time energy needs during the summer months, is awaiting planning permission.
Mr Long said: “Our thoughts have all been about protecting our patients and staff from a global pandemic but we must not close our eyes to the global threat we face because of climate change.
“More intense storms and floods, more frequent heatwaves and a wider spread of infectious diseases are in our future unless we take immediate action.
“Reaching our country’s commitment under the Paris Climate Change Agreement could save almost 6,000 lives every year but we’d also save 38,000 lives if we get a bit more active and 100,000 if we ate healthier diets.
“These are preventable deaths that will impact the lives of every one of us so the onus is on all of us to act – and act now.”