By Daniel Hunter

As politicians and business leaders head towards the Rio+20 Summit, Andrew Hine, partner and UK Head of Healthcare at KPMG, argues that the NHS has a huge role to play developing the green economy and tackling climate change — but says that it isn’t yet doing enough.

He also lays out a 3-point plan identifying how NHS Trusts across the country can tackle the three Cs - cost, carbon and care.

“It’s easy to say that climate change is having an adverse effect on the health of populations across the globe, but it’s just as accurate to argue that current approaches to healthcare are making unsustainable demands on our energy resources," Andrew said.

“That’s why, as one of the largest employers across the globe, the NHS has a responsibility to take a leading role ensuring responsible healthcare is synonymous with sustainable healthcare. Of course, for hospitals up and down the country clinical care, infection control and budget management are the key priorities, but as a huge consumer of energy the NHS cannot ignore sustainability or leave Government to solve the crisis, alone.

“With environmental concerns high on everyone’s agenda because of Rio+20 we have a huge opportunity to move sustainability up the healthcare agenda. For one thing, the NHS should take a closer look at energy consumption levels. Much is focused around waste and a move towards greener waste management would transform performance and reduce costs and emissions.

“The current distribution chain between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare also needs to be looked at. Supply chains to hospitals, GPs and pharmacies place a strain on our infrastructure and environment. Wouldn’t it be better for healthcare providers to work together streamlining the process to reducing the number of deliveries, amount of packaging and cost?

“And of course, the needs of patients cannot be forgotten. E-health, telehealth and telecare offers us a glimpse of how patients can be cared for without so much travel. Changing the way consultations happen can give patients greater freedom, quicker service and at the same time lead to a reduction in the health service’s carbon footprint.

“The UK needs new ideas to stimulate economic growth, patients are demanding better treatment and Rio+20 looks to build sustainability. Combine the three and NHS can show the way by creating energy efficient systems through the use of new delivery models and technology. What better way to create a long-term, sustainable, future?”

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