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The NHS spends approximately £600 million a year on energy. Hospitals run a 24 hours‑a-day, 365 days-a-year service and it takes a huge amount of energy to power lifesaving equipment such as intensive care beds and operating theatres.
Recently, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter announced nearly 70 schemes across the country will receive a slice of a £50 million fund to cut the NHS energy bill, which is expected to reduce the NHS energy bill by up to £13.7 million per year. As well as helping to cut carbon emissions and save the environment, all the money saved in energy bills will be redirected to front line patient care.
The expected saving of £13.7 million a year is enough to pay for 18,500 cataract operations or 2,300 hip replacements. As well as financial savings these schemes will save almost 200 million kilowatts in energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions up to 5.6 million tonnes a year.
One of the winning schemes is Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, which has been given £525,000 to reduce the environmental impact of its travel. The funding will be spent on electric cars, new conferencing equipment and a more efficient appointments system, and is expected to reduce staff travel by 750,000 miles a year. This will save up to £326,069 a year.
Based over 1,376 square miles, Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust covers a large geographical area and is aiming to make efficiencies in staff travel. They have introduced a new scheduling system, which will enable staff to plan their workloads in the most efficient way, so patients continue to be seen by the right professionals and reducing the time clinical staff spend travelling. In addition they have invested in electric vehicles, reducing CO2 emissions and money spent on fuel. Finally, they have upgraded their video conferencing equipment to reduce staff travel, improving staff efficiency and reduce energy waste.
STEAM PIPE UPGRADE
Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge has been given £58,618 to reduce wasted heat energy and help them to better control temperatures.
The hospital will be removing and replacing the insulation for boilers and pipes, which will reduce the heat energy lost through insufficient insulation and enable them to better control temperatures, which are prone to overheating. The scheme is predicted to save £61,163 a year in energy bills, which will be reinvested in to patient care. It is expected this will save over 1,500 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Meanwhile, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals in Liverpool have been given £22,094 to install a new system to automatically shut down idle and inactive computers that have been left unused for over 15 minutes. The system also included the option to customise computer shut down – such as setting all admin computers to shut down out of working hours. This is expected to save up to £57,000 a year.
Northampton General Hospital received £2.76 million for its energy supply strategy which includes a biomass boiler and new CHP (combined heat and power) plant. This is expected to reduce the trust’s carbon emissions from buildings by over 3,000 tonnes a year from their current level of just over 14,000 tonnes.
The scheme, which will be installed by March 2014, will also deliver significant financial savings in the region of £500k per annum, replace key energy related plant and improve the resilience of its energy infrastructure.
Head of estates Stuart Finn said: “The £50 million fund presented a perfect opportunity to help us deliver the step change required to meet the target of a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2015. We’re delighted that our bid was successful.”
HEAT AND POWER ENGINE
University Hospital North Staffordshire has received almost £1.5 million pounds for a combined Heat and Power Engine (CHP) to be installed on the hospital’s City General site.
Once the engine is fully operational, carbon emissions are expected to reduce by 2,792 tonnes per year - almost eight per cent of the Trust’s current carbon output and equivalent to the environmental benefit of removing 991 cars from the road.
As well as the environment benefits, annual energy costs at the Trust are also expected to be reduced by more than 400,000 pounds within five years.
Elaine Andrews, Head of Environmental Sustainability at UHNS, said: “Installing a Combined Heat and Power Engine will further reduce our impact on the environment and significantly reduce carbon emissions. There is also a cost implication – in recent years, the cost of energy has been rising between 10 and 20 per cent each year and this trend is likely to continue.
“This project will deliver recurring revenue savings in energy costs. As well as helping to cut carbon emissions and save the environment, all the money saved in energy bills will be redirected to front line patient care.”
Charlie Cox, energy manager at University Hospital, added: “Being able to generate our own power locally on site means that there will be a lot less energy wasted through transmission and distribution.”
REDUCING RUNNING COSTS
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “This summer I launched the procurement roadmap showing how our NHS could be run more efficiently and how we could reduce the running costs of NHS buildings and estates. These energy efficiency schemes will help our NHS to make £13.7 million of savings each and every year.”
Poulter continued: “Winter is fast approaching and we are all looking at ways to reduce our energy bills while keeping our homes warm and well-lit. Our NHS is one of the largest users of energy in the country. And just like the rest of us, hospitals should be doing everything they can to reduce the amount they spend.”
“These schemes demonstrate the easy ways our NHS can make improvements to help power hospitals more efficiently, save on energy bills, and reduce their carbon emissions. Money saved will be reinvested directly in to patient care,” Poulter added.
As well as saving on energy waste and energy bills, the £50 million will help support local businesses. Hospital Trusts have used local tradespeople – like plumbers and electricians – to do work like replacing old and insufficient heating and lighting systems. This means the money has helped boost local business, as well as the UK economy.