UK | Newcastle hospitals declare climate emergency

Source: The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (a GGHH member) is joining an international movement to declare a climate emergency, becoming the first NHS trust in the UK to do so.

The declaration, made by the Trust Board on 27th June 2019, demonstrates a clear and positive commitment to take action on climate change by aiming to become carbon neutral by 2040.  It follows in the footsteps of city partners Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University who have recently made similar commitments.

“Newcastle Hospitals already has an outstanding reputation for leading on efforts to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare delivery,” explained Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive.

“From being one of the first trusts to install efficient on-site combined heat and power energy centres at the turn of the century, to being the first trust in Europe to implement reusable sharps boxes 15 years ago, we are leading the way nationally and indeed internationally, to ensure the delivery of truly sustainable healthcare.”

“The trust prides itself upon a forward thinking ethos which helps to embed sustainability into everything it does, and helps to play a key role in fighting climate change through how it operates.

 “Our declaration of a climate emergency shows our continued commitment to work with our city council and other partners on this vast challenge, and we very much hope others will join us.”

The declaration builds on the development of award-winning, environmentally sustainable approaches taken by the trust over several years.

James Dixon, Head of Sustainability

The trust’s Head of Sustainability is James Dixon.

James said: “Evidence shows that climate breakdown is the greatest threat to population health. In delivering life-saving services, the NHS also generates carbon emissions and air pollution that is harmful to health,  and with our core principle of ‘first do no harm’ we have moral duty to minimise these impacts.”

“As well as focusing on embedding sustainability into our healthcare services, we have worked hard to empower staff to make sustainable choices for the benefit of our patients and the wider population”

“We’re extremely proud of what we have achieved so far, with the help of our network of over 300 dedicated Green Champions, and with this public declaration we hope to deliver on our ambitious Sustainable Healthcare in Newcastle (Shine) ambitions.”

Some notable achievements include:

  • generating the energy to power our hospitals through efficient combined heat and power plant since the turn of the century
  • buying electricity from 100% renewable sources when we need to top up our on-site energy production
  • ensuring zero waste to landfill since 2011
  • recycling over 40% of non-clinical waste offering discounts for reusing cups and food containers in our restaurants and cafes
  • removing single use plastics from our restaurants and cafes, providing compostable alternatives
  • encouraging sustainable staff travel through cycle scheme and public transport discounts investing in an electric vehicle fleet for our Estates and Catering Services and procuring electric buses for staff, patients and visitors 
  • achieving sustainable catering awards from the Soil Association & Carbon Trust
  • hosting the UK's first Environmentally Sustainable Anaesthesia Fellow, Dr Cathy Lawson
  • having a network of over 300 Green Champions – staff who are dedicated to reducing our environmental impact
  • including sustainability specification and evaluation criteria in all procurement contracts
  • planting over 200 trees on our city centre hospital sites
  • forming a ‘Green Gym’ for staff to volunteer on local beach cleans and conservation projects

Further information

A public ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration sends a clear message that the Newcastle Hospitals recognise and give weight to the threat that climate breakdown poses to public health.  Our ambition is also to lead other healthcare organisations in committing to fast tracking plans to achieve carbon neutrality, improving the health of our population in the process.

It also supports Newcastle City Council’s recent climate emergency declaration and its pledge to become carbon neutral.

What is carbon neutrality?

An organisation’s ‘carbon footprint’ is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of its activities. These carbon dioxide emissions are separated into those that the organisation has management control over (i.e. emissions from owned boilers, owned vehicle fleet and purchased electricity) and emissions from activities where we have less control (i.e. purchased goods & services, waste disposal and all other staff/patient/visitor travel).

Current UK law requires carbon emissions to be reduced by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 and will change to a 100% reduction by 2050 in light of the up-to-date climate science. Organisations that have publicly declared a ‘climate emergency’ have adopted a leadership position and have committed to fast tracking their plans to reduce their emissions to zero ahead of these dates.

Sustainable Healthcare in Newcastle (Shine)

Newcastle Hospitals has a long-standing commitment to delivering outstanding healthcare services with sustainability as a priority. The Trust’s vision for sustainability is to deliver healthcare within available environmental and social resources, protecting and improving health now and for future generations. 

Read more about Shine here: