Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cost efficiency = energy efficiency

The Route Map for Sustainable Health has been published laying out some of the measures the NHS needs to take to meet the government's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The NHS Sustainable Development Unit consulted opinion leaders including Forum for the Future to build intelligence for the report, which was published on 1st February. According to a report by Fiona Harvey in The Guardian, the NHS has emissions similar to Croatia. No wonder, then, that it has been tasked with cutting them by 10% by 2015.

Just a couple of days later, the BBC reports that overspending on basic supplies costs the NHS £500k annually. The National Audit Office examined how English hospitals purchased 66,000 products, uniforms and dessings to office stationery. It concluded that despite buying power of £100bn, the NHS is missing opportunities to leverage its buying power to gain economies of scale - a criticism similar to that levelled at central government in Sir Philip Green's Efficiency Review. It is tasked with finding up to £20bn of annual savings by 2015.

Leading private sector organisations are deriving commercial benefit from the link between efficiency and carbon emissions. When responding to the challenges in these reports, the NHS could do worse than examine best practice there.

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