Building long-term partnerships to deliver better outcomes for patients and cost savings for the NHS

Sustainability Programme

All sectors of the UK economy need to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. The NHS and universities, which occupy large premises, have the potential to make a big impact. With unrivalled links to the NHS, universities and industry, the Oxford AHSN is able to see the “big picture”, cut through traditional barriers and facilitate effective change that will benefit patients while helping the NHS achieve its target of reducing its carbon emissions by 34% by 2020, with the aim of cutting them by 50% by 2025.

The NHS trusts and universities within the Oxford AHSN region currently spend around £60m a year on energy. A co-ordinated collaborative approach across the region, being led by the Oxford AHSN, is harnessing energy efficient technology to support sustainable service delivery. The goal is for the NHS and universities to work together in new ways, to identify common issues and challenges and share experiences and expertise.

The Oxford AHSN hosts a quarterly Sustainability and Energy Network with all major regional academic and NHS stakeholders attending. Industry partners are also welcome to attend.

An independent review commissioned by the Oxford AHSN has identified annual savings of £8.7m which could be achieved from an initial investment of roughly £32m in more sustainable, energy-efficient technology and practices – for example, using combined heat and power (CHP) and renewable energy generating sources and reducing consumption through the installation of LED lighting. If adopted, these will ultimately benefit patients and staff and help to preserve the environment, and provide a simple payback in 3.7 years.

The Oxford AHSN secured initial expert input from sustainability consultancy Zexu who produced individual baseline reports for each participating organisation. This work showed that optimising performance in line with benchmark values requires a 28% reduction of electricity consumption and 5% reduction in fossil fuel usage. Achieving this would bring annual savings of £12m.

We are currently working on four projects across six NHS trusts and universities within the region, which have been identified as offering the greatest potential with combined savings of over £5m. We conducted feasibility studies with the Carbon and Energy Fund (CEF), which enables procurement of guaranteed performance contracts. The four main projects involve:

  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare with connection to Bucks New University, High Wycombe
  • Oxford Health heat network connection to Oxford University Hospitals
  • Heatherwood & Wexham Park and Frimley Park hospitals
  • Great Western Hospital, Swindon

We are also helping to implement a Global Action Plan with four NHS Trusts, which has identified the level of potential savings available through improving energy efficiency behaviours – such as switching lights off at night, having greater control over heating and cooling systems, and area “shutdowns” when not in use. The sites audited were found to have collective saving opportunities of £284,500 per annum (2% of the Trusts’ total energy bills), as well as improving patient experience on wards.

A report detailing our work so far can be found here

David Hounslea, Director of Estates & Facilities Management, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Thanks to our involvement with the Oxford AHSN we have the opportunity to learn from the experience of other organisations and to benefit from external expertise tailored to our specific needs. We have started to move forward with a major project to address energy use and sustainability within our hospitals.”

Contact: Bronwen Vearncombe

Bronwen Vearncombe
Sustainability Director
Bronwen is the Programme Director for the Sustainability Project at the Oxford Academic Health Science Network ensuring a focus on the needs of our collaborative partnership of NHS Trusts, and Universities. With a background in corporate banking and NHS collaboration over more recent years, she brings a good insight into the private and public worlds, understanding the importance of shared decision-making and strong project management.
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