Health Column - Caring for our environment is caring for our patients

Josh Balmer – Environmental and Sustainability Manager

At WWL we recognise the impact that our activities have on our environment, and ultimately our patients, and that climate change, pollution and environmental degradation are major contributors to the significant health challenges of the 21st century.

We’ve made great progress on our #GreenerWWL journey in the last few years. This includes recycling at the Trust, sending zero waste to landfill, upgrades to our heating and power infrastructure, and introducing innovative methods of heat recovery on our Combined Heat and Power Units (CHP), helping to minimise our emissions.

The CHP we recently installed at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary is expected to reduce our CO2e emissions by approximately 1500 tonnes per year.

Upgrading to LED lighting also significantly reduced our emissions and electricity consumption and we were one of the first Trusts in Europe to utilise the Internet of Things* within our light fixtures. The fixtures include sensors, enabling them to automatically brighten, dim or switch off based on the time of day, lighting and occupancy levels. The sensors also monitor temperature, space utilisation and track assets around the site, allowing us to better manage the use of our utilities.

The pandemic accelerated our greener plans through the need to consider alternative and innovative ways of working. This presented opportunities to work more efficiently, such as the digitisation of meetings, clinics and outpatient letters which will have had a positive impact on our carbon footprint. Similarly, enabling agile working has encouraged staff to consider more sustainable travel options.

WWL continues to promote active travel for its staff, visitors and patients, as we know traffic and parking around many of our sites is an issue and has a direct impact on air quality and health. We recently secured a significant grant from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to provide more modern cycle parking facilities. This will come in the form of cycle hubs and lockers across our sites, accessible to colleagues, visitors and patients, and will include helmet lockers and pumps. We are also working with TfGM to review links between our hospitals and public transport services to see how these can be improved to direct more people towards public transport, ultimately reducing our carbon footprint and improving air quality around our sites.

This is just the start of our #GreenerWWL journey, and WWL’s Green Plan represents our renewed drive to reduce the impact we have on the environment – towards the ultimate goal of being a Net Zero healthcare provider.

We genuinely believe that caring for our environment is caring for our patients - and through taking action now we can make a real difference in the fight against climate change, improving health and creating a safer world for future generations.

You can read more about our #GreenerWWL journey in our Green Plan – https://www.wwl.nhs.uk/sustainability

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