Friday 20 September 2019 / 8:01 AM Jonathan Ashworth / NHS

Ashworth plans for a net zero NHS and the ‘Greenest Health Service in the World’

The Labour Party is due to announce its vision to make the NHS the Greenest Health Service in the World, outlining plans for an NHS Green New Deal. Speaking at the Labour Party Conference on Sunday (22 September), Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, will declare a climate emergency in the NHS and unveil a raft of new commitments under a new to help the NHS meet a net zero carbon emissions target.

The NHS Sustainability and Clean Air programme will kickstart Labour’s commitment to creating the greenest health service in the world by:

  • Creating an ‘NHS Forest’ with a 1 million trees planted across the NHS estate – one for each member of staff – helping to save 11,500 tonnes of carbon per year;  
  • Installing more than 150,000 solar panels to save the NHS in energy costs;
  • Replacing polluting NHS vehicles with the procurement of low emission vehicles;
  • Investing in efficient energy systems for NHS buildings in order to save 1.7 million tonnes of C02 emissions;
  • Establishing Clean Air Zones around NHS buildings.

While the NHS is making progress on its sustainability targets, it is still a significant contributor of carbon emissions in the UK. Labour wants to build on the progress made and establish a greener NHS that will not only benefit the climate but also offer greater therapeutic value to patients and help to aid recovery. 

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, is expected to say:

 “Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face. More frequent and extreme weather events, heatwaves and deteriorating air quality increasingly impact on our health outcomes. Air pollution kills up to 40,000 people in England every year costing society more than £20 billion. We have one of the highest rates of asthma deaths for young people in Europe.

“Our NHS emits 27 million tonnes of C02 per year, around 6.3 per cent of the carbon footprint in England. As Health Secretary I’ll declare a climate emergency across our NHS. It’s my commitment that a Labour government will deliver the greenest health service in the world. Our ambition is a net zero NHS.

“We know our hospitals are in desperate need of upgrade. As we rebuild and repair our hospitals we’ll invest in solar panels and energy efficiency. We’ll move to a fleet of low emission vehicles. When the NHS procures it will do so ethically and sustainably. And we’ll guarantee a right to green space for patients and staff with an ‘NHS Forest’ planting one million trees across our NHS – a carbon storing tree for every member of staff.

“Labour will deliver the Green New Deal for our NHS.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1.   University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) installed over 1,000 roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Over its twenty-year lifetime, the initiative is expected to save the hospital over £600k in energy costs.(Source: UK health alliance on climate change)
  2.   Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT replaced old boilers with Combined Heat & Power Engine (CHP) and new combi boilers which saved the trust £460m per year. If this was replicated across the NHS it would save 1.7m tonnes of C02 a year and £77m a year (Source: OUHFT The hospital energy project).
  3.   1 million trees planted across the NHS estate will help save 11,500 tonnes of carbon per year (Source: NHS Forest/Centre for sustainable healthcare).
  4.   The UK has the highest rate of deaths from asthma for young people aged 10-24, compared to all European countries in the comparator group, and the fourth highest overall behind the USA, Australia and New Zealand (Source: Nuffield Trust).
  5. NHS emits 27 million tonnes of C02 per year, around 6.3 per cent of the carbon footprint in England (Source: Sustainable Development Unit).