Pete Waddingham, Net Zero Lead at the Health Innovation Network

In October 2020, the NHS published the ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report, outlining its ambition and plans to reduce the environmental impact of the delivery of health and care services and reach net zero carbon emissions.

The Health Innovation Network pivoted and responded to the challenge, and the Environmental sustainability national workstream was created. It aims to drive environmental sustainability at every stage and level to support the development and uptake of innovations that underpin this crucial agenda.

Three years on from publication, I’m delighted to announce that our work was shortlisted for a Edie Net-Zero Award 2023, in the Consultancy of the Year category. The awards have been created to recognise and reward the individuals and organisations that are spearheading the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy. Although we didn’t win, we’re incredibly proud to be named finalists.

Sustainability through innovation

Innovation is fundamental in helping the NHS achieve its ambitious sustainability targets. We’re currently working with over 100 innovators, covering multiple net zero themes, and supporting them to navigate NHS net zero requirements, develop carbon reduction plans, access funding and broker relationships with key stakeholders. Last month we launched a Net Zero Innovator Guide resource to help innovators navigate the NHS net zero roadmap.

We’ve recently supported Open Medical to re-engineer its clinical software solution, resulting in remarkable carbon savings of approximately 100kgCO2e per average surgical operation.

Last year we supported innovators to secure c.£5 million in funding, and we’re hoping it will continue as companies such as UKRI have launched generous multi-million pound funding opportunities to support sustainable healthcare innovation. Our work to support innovators Walk with Path, who support people with chronic conditions to walk, shape their phase 2 SBRI application resulted in them receiving funding. Since the national workstream began, we have successfully identified over 120 suitable funding opportunities for innovators.

Sharing knowledge

Sharing our expertise and showcasing innovation is important to us, and this year we’ve presented at over 40 events, to an audience of 4,000 people, utilising online technology where possible to reduce our own carbon impact. Our latest Green Hospital online session showcased more than 50 innovators to over 400 people. We calculated that hosting it online saved an estimated ​39,000 kg CO2e, equivalent to the yearly electricity use of eight homes​.

It’s essential that innovators meet NHS net zero procurement requirements, and with our support, 80% of the organisations we recently showcased have a carbon reduction plan in place.

Fostering relationships

The scale of the net zero agenda and the multi-faceted nature of innovation that we need to embrace, if we are to hit important targets, is vast and can feel overwhelming at times. But every company we connect with, we take the time to foster a relationship, and we never forget those that we meet.

Regardless of winning or losing the Consultancy of the Year accolade, we will continue to support the brilliant work of innovators and our 15 partner organisations, to help achieve a net zero NHS together.

Register now for our Bridging the Gap Net Zero event on Tuesday 28 November, at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. This event will focus on three themes; procurement, supply chain, and estates and will be an opportunity to hear from experts working in the field, showcase your innovative solutions, network and discover the support available for integrating your innovation into the NHS.

Catch-up on all of our Net Zero session recordings now on our YouTube channel.

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