UCLH needs to reduce the amount we consume per patient, re-use and re-manufacture what we can and ensure that what we do use has minimal environmental impact. We also need to ensure our suppliers match our environmental ambitions.  

To achieve this, we will:  

• Ensure sustainability forms a greater part of our procurement decision making 

• Implement changes to meet or exceed NHS England’s procurement roadmap  

• Minimise the amount we procure and use per patient 

• Increase the number of products we reuse and remanufacture 

• Offer our patients and staff more sustainable food. 

Patients visiting the emergency department at University College Hospital, The Grafton Way Building & UCLH Westmorland Street are now able to return their crutches to UCLH if there comes a time they are no longer needed. 

Historically, walking aids were considered a single-use item by suppliers, but with a carbon footprint of between 3 and 8 kilograms for each crutch, it was clear that a new process was required to support UCLH in its mission to become a net zero organisation by 2031. These have now been re-categorised so they can be re-used. 

As well as saving both money and carbon emissions, reusing walking aids is also likely to also be safer. Rather than patients passing them on to friends, all walking aids will be checked before going out again and those that are deemed not safe will be removed from circulation. 

Based on data from other NHS Trusts, it is estimated that could save up to £27,000 and 6,760 kg from entering the atmosphere per year. If successful, UCLH will look at rolling out the scheme to other departments and expanding the range of walking aids in the scheme to include wheeled walkers and walking sticks. 

We are committed to ‘buying green’ and have made sustainability a formal part of our procurement decision making, with a 10% weighting in favour of suppliers who operate sustainably, as laid out in PPN 06/20. 

We have also begun the process of engaging with our suppliers, ensuring that they are on board with our 2040 net zero target for all emissions. This involves all UCLH suppliers submitting their carbon footprint data to us via the SmartCarbon reporting platform. We plan to work closely with suppliers to trial low carbon products and support them to ensure a sustainable future 

Single-use PPE contributes to the waste that UCLH produces and in many cases forms a major part of the carbon footprint of the care we provide. UCLH is in the process of stepping up two trials of reusable products: theatre hats and face masks. We hope to scale up these trials in the future depending on how successful they are and look to trial other reusable PPE products and medical textiles, including drapes and curtains.  

You can read more stories in our Green Plan in Action 21/22 report.