NHS Wales’ decarbonisation plan to tackle climate change has been published today [Wednesday 24 March] by the Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
In 2019 Welsh Government declared a climate emergency to trigger more action to meet the climate change challenge, the first Government in the world to declare such an emergency.
As part of this, they re-enforced ambitions for Wales’ public sector to be reach ‘net zero’ for carbon emissions by 2030 by setting out 100 policies and proposals and ensuring tackling climate change is central to future legislation.
Today’s publication of the Decarbonisation Strategic Delivery Plan for NHS Wales sets out proposals which in some areas will require a fundamental shift in the nation’s approach to healthcare.
It outlines nearly 50 initiatives and targets which will be assessed and reviewed in 2025 and 2030. These are mapped under six areas:
- Carbon management
- Estate planning and land use
- Approach to healthcare
£16m is being provided by Welsh Government specifically to support the decarbonisation plans for 2021-22, with capital funding allocated for a range of schemes including a solar farm, air source heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points.
A further £21m of capital funding is also being provided in 2021-22 for infrastructure, fire safety and mental health projects – based on priorities identified by partner organisations.
A ‘green’ recovery is also a key component to NHS Wales’ response following the COVID-19 pandemic and changes are already being seen in some areas.
Over 128,000 patient consultations having taken place virtually, saving around 521,000 travel miles – the equivalent of 50 trips from Wales to New South Wales, Australia.
The Plan helps direct considerations around longer-term issues resulting from the pandemic, such as poverty and health inequalities, as well as the importance of green spaces and nature for therapeutic benefits.
In addition, decarbonisation measures will be embedded into larger infrastructure projects across NHS Wales.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Every single person in Wales has a part to play to challenge climate change however this is especially true for the decarbonisation of our health service. The choices we all make – as an individuals, as patients and as staff – undoubtedly play a role in helping to reduce our combined contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
“Wales’ NHS must act now to reduce its environmental impact, play its part, and be an exemplar in the way forward in taking steps to reduce emissions. With the pandemic demonstrating that rapid and significant societal change is achievable, the goal now must be to stir similar urgency and commitment to tackle the climate emergency.
“Swift action over the next five years is critical to ensuring the targets within this strategy are adhered to and low carbon must be at the core of decision making. We need it to be embedded into everyday processes, so much so that they become integral to the decisions NHS Wales makes.”
Chief Executive of NHS Wales Andrew Goodall said:
“As the largest public sector organisation in Wales, the NHS has an important role to play, with ambitious targets to achieve decarbonisation targets.
“Good progress has been made in recent years across NHS Wales but more can be done. This Strategic Delivery Plan gives us opportunities to look again at building and energy uses, as well as procurement, travel and other emission sources across the NHS.
“More than 100 industry experts and healthcare professionals have contributed to ensuring this plan is informed, targeted, credible, and will have a significant impact on the future operation of the National Health Service in Wales.”