International sustainability best practice visit

On 26 September we hosted a visit to Hull University Teaching Hospital from Dr Sarah Joyce, the Lead Sustainable Development Officer for the Western Australian Department of Health who is in the process of setting up a Sustainable Development Unit in the Perth area.

We asked Sarah about her visit to Hull University Teaching Hospital (HUTH) and the outcomes:

“I visited Hull University Teaching Hospital as part of a Churchill Fellowship to learn about what other countries are doing in sustainable healthcare and how health systems can reduce their environmental footprint. The aim of the Fellowship is to visit examples of best practice from overseas and bring those learnings back to Australia to help inform our local sustainability agenda.

“Key takeaways from my visit to HUTH included the value of creating a clear and engaging narrative or vision on what the organisation wants to achieve net zero by 2030.”

The Zero 30 Plan has engaged HUTH staff across the organisation and everyone understands what direction the organisation is taking. This helps support innovation and sustainability initiatives across all staff, from clinicians to gardeners. This was obvious with the range of achievements at HUTH from energy efficiencies, sustainability criteria in procurement, anaesthetic gas mitigations, electric vehicle infrastructure, woodland path among others.

The importance of having senior leadership and support for an ambitious sustainability agenda is critical for implementation.

HUTH have also recognised the power of communication to demonstrate progress, raise awareness and build momentum.

Here are some examples:

  • Sustainability badges provide staff with an opportunity to make a commitment to the organisation’s values and gives them ownership in the solution.
  • The PV farm (pictured below) act as a tangible reminder of the organisation’s commitment and helps start conversations.
  • Promoting the sustainability benefits of the new cancer scanner, which saved energy and increased patient throughput, helped suppliers understand how they can contribute to greener products and encourages people to apply a sustainability lens to their usual work practices to see where other efficiencies can be identified.
three people looking at fields of solar panels - the PV farm

Neil Cartwright, Humber and North Yorkshire Net Zero Lead said: “With the support of Alex and Marc from Hull University Teaching Hospitals, we were able to showcase some of the incredible work that is taking place across the Humber and North Yorkshire Region towards a greener future. It is brilliant to think that their award winning Zero30 strategy will be informing climate change policy at the other side of the world.

“With the help of colleagues, we were able to show how capital investment into fields of solar panels with an installed capacity of 5MW next to the hospital not only reduced their environmental impact but at the same time how this investment will realise ongoing cost savings for years to come (as well as providing shelter for grazing sheep). 

“Significant work in the trust bringing together multi-disciplinary teams has also seen the complete eradication of the anaesthetic gas desflurane from March 2022 and the move to a more climate friendly and cheaper alternative without any detriment to patient care as well as findings around the use of Nitrous Oxide reduction that may have national significance.”

Daniel Barrett, NHSE Head of Sustainability & Net Zero for the North East and Yorkshire Region said:

“It is great that our aim to deliver the world’s first net zero health service and respond to climate change is attracting attention from around the world.  This work is key to improving health now and at the same time protecting the planet for our future generations. 

“We hope to welcome Sarah back sometime in the future and to continue to develop further sustainability practices that can be examples for other healthcare systems nationally and further afield.”