NHS England’s aim of becoming the world’s first carbon net-zero national health system by 2045 (and 2040 for emissions under its direct control), will require significant changes and improvement of each NHS organisation’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) score as the first step.
Let’s look at the steps the NHS are taking to achieve this and how by improving ESG scores, NHS organisations can speed up their sustainability commitments.
Developing a green NHS
On 1st July 2022, NHS England became the first health system to embed net-zero into legislation through the Health and Care Act 2022. The NHS in England accounts for around 4% of the UK’s carbon emissions and has a vital role to play in delivering net-zero.
To drive innovation and improved care in the health sector, the NHS understands that its impact on the climate directly affects patient care. Which is why driving sustainability strengthens its people and operations to deliver economic, social, and environmental value.
How NHS England’s ESG score supports their net-zero ambitions
An ESG score is the representation of an organisation’s environmental, social and governance performance. This includes things like carbon footprints, code of conduct, employee benefit and local community schemes. The score demonstrates how ethical an organisation is.
Having a good ESG score can support organisations in being prepared for environmental compliance, investor scrutiny and confidence, public opinion as well as retaining employees. Last year’s IPCC report demonstrated how efforts need to be increased to reduce the world’s global temperature, and ESG practices are pillars of improvement and innovation in terms of reducing emissions in the short to long term.
How NHS Trusts can improve their ESG score
1. Disclose your current environmental and social impact
Your NHS Trust can’t begin the process of improving its ESG score if it doesn’t first understand where it currently stands. Whether your current position demonstrates that your Trust is already well on its way to net-zero or not, recognising and disclosing your current impact gives a baseline for future improvements, measurement and reporting.
2. Create an outline of steps for improvement
Once you have your baseline, you’ll be able to identify areas for immediate attention and plan out future projects. This plan should include a clear plan of action for every area of improvement including the steps taken for each action. This could range from procuring energy from renewable sources to implementing social projects in your local community.
3. Collect data
Data is integral to tracking the effectiveness of your ESG improvements and reporting on progress. Whilst some data is easier to obtain, such as quantitative data like energy consumption, others are not so easy to obtain. Things such as “community schemes” are difficult to quantify so qualitative data will be necessary.
4. Integrate ESG into your long-term plan
ESG should be at the forefront of everything your Trust does. Your strategy should be partly informed by ESG practices, identifying the ESG risks and opportunities for further improvement and how this helps support the NHS’ 2040 and 2045 targets. ESG practices will affect every aspect of your Trust from its supply chain to its patients, buildings and energy.
5. Communication is key
Public sector organisations like the NHS are under extreme pressure from the government to decarbonise and whilst ESG plays an important part in this, communication is a key part of its success. The ESG practices your Trust implements need to be communicated not only internally but also to the general public. This can be in the form of a report, that is sent out via email and can be part of your annual reporting. Don’t forget to update your code of governance to demonstrate your Trust’s commitment.
Your NHS Trust can find support for improving its ESG score by working with our experts with our technology enabled service. This can help to reduce demand on internal resources and removes friction to make regulatory compliance straightforward
Get in touch today on 01772 689250 or email [email protected].