Wigan hospital trust's clean air commute pledge

Wigan’s hospital trust has launched a Green Plan to help the NHS cut more than one million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the next three years – the equivalent of taking 520,000 cars off the road.

By Charles Graham
Friday, 17th June 2022, 11:24 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 2:30 pm

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s (WWL) used Clean Air Day to set out how it will reduce its environmental impact and help the NHS reach net zero by 2045.

Staff swapped four wheels for two or adopted car share practices to demonstrate their commitment to the scheme.

Alison Balson, chief people officer and the trust’s board lead for greener WWL, said: "With air pollution alone contributing to one in 20 deaths in this country a year, it is clear we are facing a health emergency.

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Dr Saeed Al Hakeem

“Our WWL Green Plan 2022-25 is a testament to our commitment to tackling climate change, and we are proud to set out the positive actions we will take to reduce our impact on the environment and safeguard the future health of our children and grandchildren."

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The green plans lay out how the NHS, which contributes approximately 3.5 per cent (9.5 billion miles) of all road travel in England, will make this travel greener.

"Smarter buildings, LED lighting and energy saving measures are also reducing emissions and saving NHS organisations money, while using intravenous anesthetic instead of gas and helping patients use inhalers more efficiently with lower carbon metered dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers, are improving patient care.

Nathan Sinclair

Initiatives at WWL include zero waste being sent to landfill and purchasing Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) backed electricity, certifying that a given share of the trust’s electricity was produced from renewable source such as wind.

WWL has also installed combined heat and power units (CHP) across all its hospital sites. The CHP that was recently installed at Wigan Infirmary is expected to reduce WWL’s CO2e emissions by around 1,500 tonnes per year.

The trust is currently in the process of upgrading its lighting at the hospital to LED, helping WWL realise a significant saving in emissions and electricity consumption, and by connecting to the Internet of Things, the lights will automatically brighten, dim, or switch off based on time of day, lighting levels and occupancy.

The sensors can also monitor temperature, space utilisation and track assets around the site allowing WWL to better manage utilities consumption in relation to lighting, cooling, and heating, and significantly reduce the time spent trying to find items such as medical equipment, beds, and wheelchairs.

Lorraine Hesketh and Louise Carney

The trust has been promoteing greener travel options for all colleagues, visitors, and patients, with traffic and parking around WWL’s sites having a direct impact on air quality and health.

WWL was recently successful in securing a significant grant from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to provide more modern cycle parking facilities in the form of cycle hubs and lockers at Wigan Infirmary, Wrightington Hospital, Leigh Infirmary, and the Thomas Linacre Centre.

The facilities will be accessible for all members of staff, visitors and patients and will include helmet lockers and a pump.

As part of the SUMP project with TfGM (aimed at helping cities become accessible, green, and liveable places) the links between WWL and public transport services are under review to ultimately reduce the trust’s carbon footprint and improve air quality around its sites.

Becky Sanderson and Nathan Sinclair

Colleagues across the Trust also supported this year’s NHS Sustainability Day (on June 8) by making a sustainable journey in to work that week. This included staff travelling to work on foot, bike, bus, train or car sharing with colleagues.

Ms Balson added: “These positive actions will help to reduce the trust’s carbon footprint and contribute towards improving the air quality around our site.

"Through making these positive changes – big or small – and adapting to new ways of working, we can continue to work together to turn our steps into strides on our journey to a #GreenerWWL.”

Dr Nick Watts, chief sustainability officer at NHS England said: “The NHS was the first health system in the world to commit to net zero and the outstanding innovation and commitment from WWL is a vital step towards achieving that aim.

“Doing our bit on climate change will directly improve public health and reduce health inequalities, cutting deaths caused by air pollution and ensuring a healthier future for our children.”