Improving the sustainability of the NHS and reducing the NHS carbon footprint has the benefit of saving money. To this end, the NHS SDU and colleagues in the Department of Health have been working together to devise a more comparable, consistent and data driven way for the NHS to report on sustainability.
The result is an innovative new framework for reporting sustainability information as part of the annual NHS financial reporting process. The framework is to be included in the annual reports of NHS organisations, as part of the process of making the NHS more financially and environmentally sustainable, and showing patients and other stakeholders that the NHS is adapting to change.
There is much data already in existence to support this work, and the project creates a framework which requires no additional data gathering burden. It progresses from a starting point of adaptation of Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) data for external reporting purposes, and includes guidance already issued by the SDU, financial report information and existing best practice from the NHS.
The framework will be available to use on a voluntary basis in 2010/11, and from 2011/12 onwards will be part of the accounts direction issued by the Department. It includes a rich mixture of quantitative and qualitative indicators, illuminating the progress that all NHS organisations are making in shrinking their carbon footprint, reducing their energy emissions and improving their environmental impact. It also takes care to include the opportunity for organisations to discuss their plans for the future, as well as past performance. Most importantly, it reinforces the indelible link between financial and environmental performance in the NHS.
The value of the reporting framework to stakeholders and to the NHS is in its comparability. When all organisations are discussing the same baselines, the same information, the same goals, it is possible to understand not only the progress we have made, but also the distance we still have to go in creating a sustainable health service.