Ensuring that staff understand the urgency of the climate crisis and support our net zero programme is crucial if we want to be successful in reaching our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2031. Our patients must be kept informed of changes and we must work closely with other NHS organisations, including NHS England, if we are to deliver a successful programme.
To achieve this, we will:
• Embed sustainability objectives into divisional governance structures
• Promote smaller, but more visible, team-based projects
• Ensure our staff and patients are kept informed of net zero progress, educated on sustainability matters, and know how they can get involved
• Harness the people power of our Sustainability Champions Network
• Build sustainability into business-as-usual practices
• Engage with stakeholders beyond our staff, including other NHS organisations.
UCLH has reached the milestone of funding planting over 50,000 trees since switching its default search engine on work computers to Ecosia.
Ecosia is a free to use search engine that that uses around 80 per cent of its profits to fund tree planting projects around the world, with over 170 million trees planted so far. When UCLH switched to Ecosia on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge in February 2022, it funded 600 trees in week one. Just over a year later and we have funded more than 50,000.
The project was started by UCLH Sustainability Champions and completed with the support of UCLH colleagues within the digital, transformation and communications teams. Although implementing Ecosia was a small change, it has had a wide-reaching impact, with several other NHS trusts now making a similar switch.
Our initiatives include our pedometer challenge which had a specific focus on promoting green and active travel amongst our staff. UCLH has also set up a bike user group to promote cycling. The group holds regular free bike check sessions and highlights safe cycling storage facilities.
UCLH will be regularly surveying staff to ensure more are cycling, walking, or using public transport and fewer are relying on private cars for their commute. UCLH has signed up a programme that rewards staff for taking part in green initiatives, called Green Impact .
UCLH's network of sustainability champions share our passion to be a more sustainable healthcare organisation. Their role is to help other colleagues adopt more environmentally sustainable practices both at work and at home.
UCLH sustainability champions:
• are a ‘port of call’ on sustainability in their department
• support colleagues to learn about the sustainability agenda, our green plan and other environmental policies
• identify potential improvements which would result in more sustainable practice, either locally or trust wide
• exchange ideas, updates, resources and support with other champions
• promote sustainability initiatives and general awareness at UCLH.
There are now additional champion roles that allow staff to focus on a specific niche they are passionate about: energy, food, communications, training, reduce reuse recycle champions.
Sustainability champions meet regularly to hear updates from the sustainability team, learn more about priority projects and share best practice. As of January 2023, there were 231 sustainability champions across UCLH: we are aiming to have one champion in every department.
In 2022, the sustainability team ran a week of education and activity sessions themed around sustainability and the climate crisis. We had talks from clinicians, sustainability experts, NHS sustainability colleagues, wellbeing practitioners to help tackle climate anxiety, and our own sustainability team to talk about net zero at UCLH and how UCLH staff can get involved.
In 2023, we will be running another green learning week. This time, we are collaborating with our North Central London colleagues to hear their expertise and insights, as well as open up the invite to wider NCL staff. There will be a mix of face-to-face, virtual, and interactive sessions.
You can read more stories about our progress in our Green Plan in Action report 2021/22