Berkshire Healthcare publishes first Green Plan with a focus on digital and data

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT) has published its first Green Plan, outlining its strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045 in line with the Greener NHS programme.

The document, titled ‘Net Zero‘n’Green Berkshire Healthcare’s Green Plan 2022-25 ‘, is described as “a pathway strategy” that “starts our drive to decarbonise all of our operational activities and strategic decision making… ensuring that we’re providing healthcare services that are sustainable and that are not contributing to environmental damage.”

Let’s take a look at some of the key themes from the plan, with a focus on how digital, data and technology play a part.

The role of the COVID-19 pandemic is raised in the strategy, with BHFT noting that their response “included a substantial shift in the number of patients that no longer have to travel to clinics” which “created a significant drop in our carbon footprint through reduced travel and reduced paper and office waste”. Building on this, the trust states that it plans to “continue to keep our impact on the environment as low as possible by using digital opportunities where possible and appropriate.”

The strategy goes on to highlight NHS England’s areas of focus, which includes digital transformation: “The use of technology clearly has a place in streamlining service delivery and supporting functions whilst improving the associated use of resources and reducing carbon emissions.”

BHFT go on to lay out their own areas of action, noting that “certain actions and subject matters [must be] initially prioritised” in order to achieve success. Digital transformation is one such priority, with the trust sharing their belief that it will assist them in cutting carbon emissions and improving their financial wellbeing.

The Green Plan sets out the trust’s strategic goals – to enhance reputation, improve financial efficiency, improve health and wellbeing, stop polluting the environment and to cut carbon emissions – against the areas of action. It states: “The one supporting universal factor is data and how this is vital in identifying and focusing action as well as measuring and monitoring progress and success in achieving a net zero organisation that delivers sustainable healthcare.”

Data is highlighted as key to encourage staff to make the right choices. For example, by measuring and monitoring all travel data from service delivery and commuting, BHFT hopes to limit unnecessary vehicle use and emissions, with the target of reducing 50 percent of staff commuting and business travel by 2025.

Data also plays a key role in the trust’s ambition to reduce the amount of waste generated by ten percent, by 2023. Improved data on waste will inform and identify targeted actions, as well as enabling the trust to meet their mandated reporting requirements.

When it comes to technology, the trust notes that investing in improved equipment and technology is key for energy efficient buildings, with a need to install renewable energy technology in healthcare estates. This will help the trust meet its aim of reducing carbon emission from gas and electricity by 50 percent by 2025.

You can read the Green Plan in full here.