In the NHS report Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service, the opening paragraph highlights that climate change is a healthcare emergency which threatens the foundations of good health and which has direct and immediate consequences for all of us. But what does this mean for our innovators and for our NHS colleagues?

It means that thinking of the environmental impact of your innovation or service is now an integral part of designing and delivering any healthcare solutions. Many studies have demonstrated how the climate emergency is impacting on our health, from how polluted cities exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma or how extreme weather events such as floods lead to a rising demand for healthcare due to injury or infection. The work we do today to reduce the impact of climate change will help reduce health problems in the future.

Ambitions for the NHS

NHS Long Term Plan, aims to respond to climate change, improving health now and for future generations. It has sustainability commitments which range from reducing single-use plastics and water consumption, through to improving air quality.

As the largest employer in Britain, NHS England produces 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, about 4-5% of the nation’s carbon emissions, so it has to be a major part of the solution

In July 2022 Net Zero requirements for the NHS was embedded into legislation through the Health and Social Care Act 2022.

Key targets for the NHS to achieve in the pivotal report “Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service” report include:

  • The NHS Carbon Footprint: for the emissions we control directly, net zero by 2040
  • The NHS Carbon Footprint Plus: for the emissions we can influence, net zero by 2045.

The NHS has a Procurement plan which sets out a stepwise plan over the next 8 years which will require Net Zero and social value to be incorporated in the procurement of NHS goods and services.

Sources of carbon emissions:

Ambitions for the Health Innovation Network Network

The Health Innovation Network network is supporting the drive to NHS Net Zero targets through its role in supporting the development and implementation of innovation in the NHS.

Our network has set out 3 key Pledges setting out the aims of the project for Health Innovation NetworkS:

Pledge 1: Embedding Net Zero into Health Innovation Network governance, delivery and supporting employees to promote Net Zero with innovators and stakeholders will enable the Health Innovation Network to become an authoritative voice and contribute to securing future investment and licencing.

Pledge 2: Health Innovation Networks will embed NetZero into their current Innovator support offer and ensure innovation that contributes to Net Zero is identified and supported.

Pledge 3: We will develop an understanding our ICB Partner’s Net Zero priorities and ensure Health Innovation Network Net Zero delivery complements and supports these priorities.

Further information about the Health Innovation Network network’s role in supporting the NHS Net Zero goals, including links to Health Innovation Network Net Zero event recordings, can be found here:

Sustainability and the environment – Health Innovation Network Network

Ambitions for HIWM

We have 2 main areas of focus for our Net Zero activity.

Innovator Support

From April 2023 for all the contracts above £5 million per annum, the NHS will require suppliers to publish a carbon reduction plan and from April 2024 this will cover all procurements. If you have a healthcare sustainability plan already in place and can demonstrate how your innovation can contribute to reduce the carbon footprint, you will have a competitive advantage on other suppliers and your tender will have more chances to be successful.

The Health Innovation Network Network has produced a Net Zero innovator support guide which gives an overview to Net Zero and how that fits in the NHS landscape.

The West Midlands Health Innovation Network also offers further sustainability support in partnership with Medilink Midlands to SMEs and innovators within its incubator and accelerator programmes within the West Midlands.

The West Midlands Health Innovation Network Projects Impacting on NetZero

As an organisation, HIWM is mindful of the impact of travel on the environment, with the majority of staff working remotely and a number of facilitated Networks meeting virtually.

HIWM links to the National Health Innovation Network Sustainability groups including the Environmental Sustainability Community of interest, which brings together members from across the Networks to share best practices and collectively work together.

Whilst Net Zero is a cross-cutting theme across the organisation, there are current areas of particular project focus:

  1. Remote monitoring and virtual wards
  2. Medicines optimisation and patient safety workstreams

Additional Resources

Find out more

Get in touch with a member of the project team below to find out how you can get involved.