Over £400m of savings can reduce carbon emissions by 1 million tonnes

The NHS and wider health sector could save up to £414m and cut 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year by 2020 through making changes that can also benefit people’s health.

A new report by the Sustainable Development Unit for NHS England and Public Health England selected 35 areas and calculated their financial and environmental benefits.

The Securing healthy returns report outlines areas that offer potential cash savings and environmental benefits. These include providing mental health services to people being treated for physical health needs in hospitals, encouraging staff to travel to work by bike or foot and increasing use of technology for communication – for instance between staff and for patients with long term conditions.

Alongside the report are a number of online tools which are designed to help decision makers better understand what different interventions can deliver both nationally and for their organisation:

  1. A national carbon cost benefit curve (shows the carbon cut and pounds savings across the interventions nationally)
  2. A national organisation type carbon cost benefit curve (shows carbon cut and pounds savings nationally but for specific areas such as acute, GP etc)
  3. Your carbon and cost benefit curve - An interactive tool that enables users to enter their organisational information and scales results to them 

Your carbon and cost benefit curve tool enables users to enter their specific organisational information such as staff numbers, floor space or prescriptions. Users then select the interventions they want to include and the system will calculate the potential financial savings and reduction in tonnes of carbon.

An average sized hospital with 3,000 staff and performing 60,000 operations a year could save up to £2.2m and cut 3,000 tonnes of carbon per year - the same as taking 1,300 cars off the road for a year.

The 35 areas were selected based on real life examples taking place at health and care organisations across England. These have been analysed to show the levels of savings they can offer by implementing at a national and local level. They are not the top 35 interventions but have been selected as they are supported by robust data.