12 March 2021 – NHS Non-Executive Directors webinar

12 March 2021

This week’s session opened in conversation with special guest Joan Walley, Non-Executive Director, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

Speaking about the challenge of climate change, Joan said: “I think we have all got to be optimistic and hopeful but also see ourselves as being part of the solution. It’s really about how do we actually integrate and understand the climate change challenge that faces us. […]

“I’ve been very privileged to have been part of the committee that put environmental issues onto the cross-cutting agenda but now that we know that environmental issues are so immediate, we have to be more ambitious and move to a delivery phase. The NHS cannot be separate from this. Therefore, it is really important that as part of the role of senior leaders in trusts, we take on and see how this affects trusts and what we can do about it. […]

“The UK as a whole has a target of net zero by 2050. The NHS, however, is more ambitious than that and adopted a target by net zero by 2040. So now we are in a situation where this will be put into practice through delivery plans and this is a key challenge for us at a trust board level. We are now all going to have to report and monitor to make sure we are aligned to all that.”

Also overheard at Friday’s webinar:

“The concern I have is that the target date of 2040 means trusts will not feel this needs urgent action, which is exactly the opposite of the case. In the NHS as a whole the supply chain accounts for over 60% of the carbon footprint, so that needs to be a major area of focus.”

“Everyone is onboard with the principle but there is a big gap between this and taking the right actions. We will have to make some tough decisions in the process of getting to net zero. For example, we had a debate about whether we should change from methane to biogas, which would cost us an extra £120,000 a year. This is the equivalent to the price of a doctor. So we have to decide which is a higher priority – a doctor or biogas?”

“We need to bear in mind how much care is delivered in the community and the further move in that direction. Ten district nurses driving cars will generate a lot more emissions than ten nurses in a hospital. Moreover, working from home probably generates far more emissions than a group of people working in a well-planned net-zero office. All of us are heating our own not very carbon efficient homes.”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation. For further details, visit our website https://www.good-governance.org.uk/events/.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk