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Will the NHS reach target of 80% carbon reduction?

26th April 2010

Writing in HSJ, Jennifer Taylor looks at creative commissioning for pathways of care to help the NHS in carbon reduction.

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To meet the government’s target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, the NHS needs to think carefully about pathways of care.

Fortunately, most revised pathways of care that meet the objectives of sustainability and carbon reduction also include improved quality and reduced cost.

The NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s Fit for the Future document identifies ways a sustainable low carbon healthcare system might be achieved.

Looking at systems of how to deliver care to people rather than just buildings can make a difference with commissioners required to think creatively about services.

The way forward is by commissioning pathways of care, rather than being locked into the present structures of buildings or personnel. That could see services provided closer to people’s homes or in a GP surgery rather than hospital.

And a contract may see a provider paid not on the number of patients but on the number of patients - with diabetes, for example - who avoid hospital admission.

One area to focus on could be kidney care. Its precise carbon footprint is not known but hospital-based haemodialysis uses vast amounts of water and requires visiting the hospital three times a week.

Projects to calculate the carbon footprint of kidney services and create a methodology that can be used annually by local services to monitor their own carbon usage are now under way.

Technology will also be a major factor in these redesigned pathways of care as the idea that of sustainability becomes embedded in commissioning decisions and designing services.

 

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