THE NHS has been told to clean up its act after it emerged nearly two-thirds of hospital trusts are failing to meet carbon reduction targets.

More than 60 per cent of NHS trusts are not on course to meet the Government’s carbon reduction targets, analysis from Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit can reveal.

Figures from the Estates Returns Information Collection, published by NHS Digital, also shows a third of trusts are still without vital environmental plans in place.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth condemned the figures and is among those who have called for changes to be made in light of the findings.

In a joint statement, Mr Ashworth and Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman, said: “These figures are shocking.

“The Labour Party has already called for a Clean Air Act but it’s time the NHS took its responsibilities to climate change seriously.”

In 2012 the carbon footprint of the NHS, public health and adult social services was estimated at 32 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

This represented 40 per cent of public sector emissions in England.

Two years later Public Health England and NHS England launched the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health, Public Health and Social Care System, which described the vision for a sustainable health and care system.

Their aim was a 34 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from building energy use, travel and acquiring goods and services by 2020.

But the NHS’ own data revealed that in 2017/18, a quarter of trusts with a target were not on course to meet it.

NHS forecast positive changes for environment

However, an NHS spokesman promised positive changes ahead.

A spokesman said: “The NHS has reduced carbon emissions by 18.5 per cent between 2007 and 2017.

“We will see further reductions thanks to the NHS’ Long Term Plan which introduces low emission vehicles, reduces the use of single use plastics and anaesthetic gases like nitrous oxide.”

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, NHS trusts were tasked to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, supported by reductions of 34 per cent by 2020, and 50 per cent by 2025.

Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit found:

• The South of England commissioning region was the worst performing in 2017-18, with only 16 of 55 trusts being on track to meet their carbon reduction target – or 29 per cent.

• London was the best performing as more than half of the region’s trusts are expected to meet their environmental goals.

  • Meanwhile, a third of England’s trusts still do not have either a sustainable development management plan or carbon reduction management plan.
  • Forty-six per cent also still need a healthy transport plan, which would promote more sustainable travel schemes such as: shuttle bus services connecting sites, car share scheme and the provision of secure cycle hubs.

Green Party urges Government to help NHS tackle climate crisis

Co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, told Newsquest funding was needed to help the NHS tackle the climate crisis.

“We have to keep in mind the intense financial pressure the NHS is suffering, with health funding far behind that of comparable countries,” he said.

“The NHS needs to be properly funded to meet the agreed policies to tackle the climate crisis, which means having the appropriate healthy transport, sustainable development and carbon reduction plans in place.

“And it needs to see political leadership from the Government to demonstrate that politicians at Westminster are really demanding action – which means not expanding Heathrow, backing fracking or new road building.”

When considering the impact NHS organisations’ travel and transport has on the environment and public health, NHS England’s Sustainable Development Unit claimed the health body is responsible for, or can influence, three per cent of all road traffic in England – meaning there is scope to help cut harmful emissions.

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A 2017 report from the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Paediatrics and Child Health also estimated the UK-wide travel and transport impact on mortality is equivalent to 40,000 deaths a year.

Pollution also has a significant impact on people’s cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Mr Bartley added: “Many of the costs imposed on the NHS come from our unhealthy society.

“Cleaner air and more encouragement of active transport will improve health and reduce the need for treatment of ill health.

“Funding and political support for energy efficiency measures will also cut the NHS’ costs. What’s needed is political will, and funding, from the top.”