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Editorial – NHS England publication of the Sustainability Roadmap

By October 8, 2021No Comments

On 30th September, NHS England/Improvement issued a letter entitled “Roadmap for NHS suppliers to reach net zero by 2045” to suppliers in the UK.

This letter should not have been a surprise for any supplier, as the commitment to Net Zero was made a year ago and there has been significant activity and discussion across the healthcare industry, including featuring heavily in BIVDA’s Sustainability programme.

The statistics stated in the letter are clear, and it is obvious that the NHS Will be looking to us to improve our operations across the board to enable them to meet their own requirements.

Moving towards a more sustainable healthcare system in the UK won’t just reduce carbon emissions and help to mitigate the impact of climate change. It will also improve the health of the entire population. The environmental and societal aspects of the world have a direct impact on our health and effect long-term conditions. We all know this. But this isn’t just about reducing our carbon emissions; this is about working sustainably. The entire IVD sector can work together to find more environmentally, socially and health concise ways of working.

BIVDA has been working with NHS England/Improvement through the forums and surveys and we have worked really hard to ensure that it isn’t all one way as is very often the case, tentatively (or maybe naively) this feels different to before. To meet a target they have, they need to collaborate as they no longer have black and white control over an issue as perhaps, they have been used to in the past. This is an opportunity for this sector to lead the way and really demonstrate how agile and innovative we are.

Frustratingly, Sustainability has had a few false starts, remember the flexible framework in 2008, the introduction of horizontal policies in the Public Contract Regulations in 2015?  This is because it was effectively optional of the NHS and therefore optional for us. There was a noticeable absence of objectives and measurables. This letter finally sets out some key milestones that must be achieved.

Arguably at last – is that Sustainability isn’t a choice, its not an added value, it’s not an “if we have time” –we don’t really have time and this must be viewed by senior leaders as a fundamental core operation and critical not only to the commercial viability of an organisation in the relative short term, but to the future of our planet, and future generations. Many of our members have been able to show NHS England/ Improvement the progress and leadership already.

On the face of it, not using suppliers who cannot demonstrate progress to Net Zero in 8 years’ time almost seems an unrealistic goal and many may think, that won’t happen. But this is looking at things through how things are now and stability we are used to – but the risk in this, is with new entrants, innovations, research, investment and new regulations. Those companies that do embrace this will quickly become more attractive than those who stand still or move more slowly. The whole UK regulatory and procurement landscape is being adjusted post-Brexit and it would be un-wise to think that any small, potentially insignificant changes won’t be used as enablers.

At BIVDA we are committed to sustainability and we can help support and empower member companies to reach sustainable and environmental objectives. This will include extensive training, guidance, descriptive documents, templates, processes and case studies – all of which will enable your company to meet KPI’s, the NHS Net Zero and meet social value elements. The BIVDA programme considers Sustainability as a concept and subject matter, not a competitive programme. Companies can use their sustainable credentials to be the company that embraces sustainability and is more attractive as they wish. This is a by-product of doing the right thing. Members are encouraged to consider that Sustainability is Sustainability regardless of the requesting organisation; your activities and progress are valuable and useable across all customers and consumers.

We have a lot of work to do but there is free training available to members which you can find in our “training” section of the weekly newsletter which will go a long way to help you start or progress on your journey to Net Zero. Its free and its relevant so members are encouraged to take full advantage of it. The next session is 22 October. We will also be providing further free training on how to respond to tenders with sustainability criteria and how to capture and demonstrate your capability. From April 2022, NHS tenders have to include 10% scoring criteria, details of this can be seen in these Procurement Policy Notes PPN 06/20 and PPN 06/21.

NHS England has recognised the need for support for some companies, there will be funding awards for innovation such as SBRI Funding 2021. BIVDA has called for investment and funding in the comprehensive spending review for companies to reach the required levels quickly and members will receive all necessary support and information required to do this through our Sustainability programme. There should be no barrier that can’t be overcome for you as an organisation to do this.

Read and understand the letter, read and understand the procurement policy notes, attend the training provided and embrace this.

The first big thing you’ll need to gear up for is April 2022. 10% in tenders.

Let’s do it.

Helen Dent, Chief Operating Officer.