Integrated Health Awards 2023: green NHS initiative of the year

Next, we have our green NHS initiative of the year finalists.

Open Medical

Overview. ​​​Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust revolutionised patient care while championing environmental responsibility by adopting Open Medical’s PathpointⓇ eTrauma and Virtual Fracture Clinic. 

Why? Their digitally transformed workflows significantly reduced patient travel and paper use, resulting in remarkable carbon emission savings, all while maintaining the highest standards of patient care.

What happened? Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) have leveraged Open Medical’s PathpointⓇ eTrauma and Virtual Fracture Clinic (VFC) to revolutionise the way they deliver their orthopaedic trauma care, improving patient outcomes in an environmentally conscious manner aligning with their Green Plan. The digital platform for end-to-end orthopaedic patient care minimised unnecessary patient travel and paper usage, with eTrauma including advanced features such as digital trauma take and handover, real-time breach warning, and semi-elective trauma scheduling. This solution streamlined workflows, enhanced collaboration, and significantly reduced carbon emissions, all while maintaining the highest standards of patient care. Since implementation in December 2020, the trust has discharged over 50 percent of 18,772 referrals, resulting in 9,866 saved hospital trips. This has saved 57,220kg in CO2, equivalent to 29 round trips between London and New York. 

Looking ahead. By implementing eTrauma, the trust continues to improve patient outcomes whilst supporting the NHS in reaching net-zero emissions by 2040.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals 

Overview: The trust has a new approach to sharing patient discharge notes with primary care colleagues.

Why? The approach aims to reduce carbon emissions, resource consumption and costs, driving improvements in the efficiency and quality of patient care.

What happened? Upon being discharged from hospital each patient receives a hospital discharge letter, summarising their tests, treatments and any follow-up care, with a copy also provided to their GP. The printing and postage requires a significant amount of paper and transportation. The trust acknowledged that efficiency could be improved by rethinking the method used to deliver patient discharge notes and recognised that technology could be of assistance in distributing letters. They took part in extensive engagement with primary care, other healthcare providers and patients to identify a solution. Using the Transfer of Care (TOC) messaging system from NHS Digital, the trust can now save and send patient discharge notes to GPs electronically, and part of the trust’s EHR, electronic discharge advice note (eDAN),is used to send electronic copies of a patient discharge letter to the patient’s GP directly. Since launching this in November 2020, the trust has sent over 79,444 letters electronically and saved over 4.7 tonnes of CO2e.

Looking to the future. The trust is working on a solution to provide electronic discharge notes for patients as well as GPs, and are also planning to expand the initiative across the UK. Leeds seeks to share best practice and lessons learnt to encourage other trusts to adopt similar systems.

Cambridge University Hospitals

Overview: The trust is using technology which can choose between solar, battery and mains energy to deliver the lowest possible carbon eating and air-conditioning for mums and babies at The Rosie Hospital.

Why? Maintaining the right temperature at the Rosie Hospital is important for the welfare of mothers and babies, as water has to be heated to high temperatures to ensure it is safely pasteurised but the environment has to be cool enough to be safe and provide air conditioning on hot days.

What happened? Developed by Arriba Technologies on St John’s Innovation Park in Cambridge, the new technology combines photovoltaic (solar) roof panels, cooling, heating and the power of huge lithium batteries with computer-controlled electronics in a single unit. It can flip between the three different sources of power and choose whichever is most green at the time. The technology has led to a 60 percent carbon reduction compared to the previous conventional chiller unit.

Looking to the future. The trust says that the technology represents a major step towards their ambition to halve carbon emissions in the next 10 years and become net-zero by 2045. They noted that being a 24/7 major acute hospital means that they are an intense consumer of energy, water, goods and materials and added that their plan is to keep refining technology whilst replicating and scaling up across their buildings in order to decarbonise their estate, with a rolling fund to reinvest energy savings in green infrastructure.

Wye Valley NHS Trust

Overview. Wye Valley NHS Trust has turned on a new ground source heat pump in order to keep two of the buildings on their County Hospital site warm without use of fossil fuels.

Why? The move comes as part of the first phase of the trust’s programme to reduce carbon emissions following a £4.9 million government-funded works programme which saw 47 boreholes drilled to install the ground source heat pump.

What happened? The pump extracts what little heat there is in the ground and a heat exchanger uses it to warm up the water circulating in the heating system. In addition, pipes have been lagged, a layer of solar panels has been installed on the main hospital building’s roof, and lights have been converted to LED lights. Once the programme has been extended across the entire hospital site, the trust estimates that they will be saving around 3,715 tonnes of carbon a year.

Looking ahead. The trust has also made a successful bid for £21 million of government cash and plans to convert the entire hospital site to be free of fossil fuels. As part of this, they will install more ground source heat pumps in a move expected to reduce the amount of carbon produced to heat the hospital by approximately 97 percent.