Today, (Friday, March 26) is NHS Sustainability Day – a day of huge significance to the NHS which aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Around 4% of the country’s current carbon emissions are from the NHS.

Every day, not just NHS Sustainability Day, Oxford Health concentrates on ways to improve the sustainability of the trust, developing and continuing green initiatives and preparing for the future – travel, providing services, operating trust buildings, engaging with staff and using green spaces all matter.

In October 2020, the NHS became the first in the world to commit to delivering a net zero national health system – indicating healthcare improvements while reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.

With around 6,800 employees at Oxford Health working across 150 sites in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and parts of Somerset numerous sites and staff have been contributing to green projects and behaviours.

Oxford Health’s biggest achievement to date is a 38% reduction in carbon emissions, exceeding the NHS target of 34% by 2020. The decarbonisation of heat within our buildings at the Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury and the Highfield Unit based at the Warneford Hospital together with transferring to electrical heating and installing high efficiency low energy lighting in buildings funded by NHS Improvement has contributed to this milestone.

In February 2021, at the virtual Zero Carbon Oxford Summit, Oxford Health along with 20 other major businesses and organisations in Oxford, signed the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter, agreeing our support to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the city by 2040.

Oxford Health’s other noteworthy achievements to date are:

  • 100% of electrical power provided from renewable sources offsite
  • No contribution of any waste to landfill from any sites, using either incineration or recycling
  • 60% reduction in overall vehicle Business Mileage, due to increased working from home
  • The Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury and the Highfield unit based at the Warneford use renewable energy sources such as solar panels, ground source heat pumps and rainwater harvesting
  • An electric vehicle on the fleet which has covered 8,000 miles to date
  • A trial of two hybrid cars in two community teams underway

John Upham, sustainability manager, said: “We are taking steps to ensure a greener future for Oxford Health and Oxford city.

“We are extremely pleased with our achievements to date and must continue to make changes to become a more sustainable trust, whilst meeting the needs of our communities and staff. We would like to thank staff for their support in our mission to be greener. We now focus on the future and the next NHS target to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2025. We will work with local organisations and leaders to make Oxford a more sustainable city – ultimately having positive impacts on both the environment and our health.”