Double win for the Trust at NHS sustainability Awards

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) celebrated a double win at this year’s NHS Sustainability Awards.

As well as winning both the finance and energy sustainability categories, the Trust was named the runner up for waste sustainability.

The awards, held in London, recognised NEAS for being innovative for sustaining energy and financial resources and being focused on reducing their overall cost; both financially and environmentally.

The Trust’s resources spread over a huge geographical area of over 3,200 miles and include 50 stations, 140 emergency care ambulances, 250 patient transport vehicles and 57 rapid response vehicles, which together produce a number of challenges for managing healthcare waste.

In 2013/14 the Trust produced 15 tonnes of healthcare waste with a cost of just over £18k per year, which increased to around 18 tonnes a year as demand on the service increased.  

To tackle this, NEAS has implemented a number of projects within five key areas. This included joining the Northern Consortium healthcare waste contract, led by Newcastle Hospitals which gave the Trust more bargaining power over the contract which resulted in savings of £12k. NEAS has also worked with regional hospitals to provide designated NEAS healthcare bins, which reduces time and carbon omissions because staff no longer have to return to base to dispose of their waste.

An e-learning package has also been offered to front line staff from April 2017 to train staff in healthcare waste management, accredited by the Chartered Institute of Waste Management.  

Clare Swift, Environmental and Sustainability Manager says, “This recognition has given us confirmation that we are doing the right things as a Trust to be a sustainable organisation. We are committed to ensuring our impact on the environmental is minimised within all our key areas of operation. Our carbon management plan (CMP) aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 based on CO2 emissions in 2012/13 which will amount to £10.6million savings from electricity, gas and diesel.

“NEAS is committed to not only achieving its ambitious targets set out in the CMP but ensuring these are overachieved and exploring further both renewable electricity and heating solutions is top of the agenda for NEAS.”

Some of the work delivered has reduced gas and electricity. By using LED lighting and renewable power in the form of solar panels, installation of combi boilers and updating the heating systems by replacing oil fired heating has reduced costs significantly. Five Air Source heat pumps have been installed and NEAS has recently secured planning approval for two 6kW wind turbines. The Trust also gained Waste Saver Gold Standard, along with Water and Carbon Saver Standards in August 2016 which helped reduce 108 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2013/14 to 36 tonnes in 2015/16.

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