GPs in Kent and Medway who make their surgeries greener will become the first in the country to be rewarded for their work.

As part of the NHS’ commitment to reduce its carbon output by 10 per cent by 2015, GPs who embrace green technologies and innovative ways of working will receive a Sustainable Surgeries Award.

Family doctors and nurses can earn green points to achieve their award through a range of initiatives, such as making home visits, where appropriate, on bicycle rather than by car; installing meters to monitor their surgery’s power usage and identify where savings can be made; introducing recycling schemes and ensuring buildings are energy compliant.

The award, which is the first known initiative of its kind in the country, was developed by staff at NHS Kent and Medway to help make the organisation more sustainable and meet its carbon reduction targets. The award scheme will be rolled out across Kent and Medway having been successfully piloted in west Kent last year.
NHS Kent and Medway’s Medical Director and Sustainability Lead Dr Caroline Jessel said: “Sustainability is a key priority for the NHS, both nationally and here in Kent and Medway, where it is at the heart of our plans to develop a sustainable approach to health care delivery during the next three years.

The NHS has set a target to reduce its carbon output by 80 per cent by 2050, with 10 per cent by 2015. As GPs begin to take over responsibility for commissioning healthcare services from April 2013, it is vital that practices begin to develop carbon management skills and awareness now in order to improve efficiency, budgets and reduce carbon emissions. Many carbon saving initiatives also have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

The Sustainable Surgeries Award will further contribute to the savings that have already been made by the NHS across Kent and Medway.

The award was launched to coincide with the first NHS Sustainability Day, which took place on Wednesday, 28 March.

Savings have already been made across Kent and Medway through a variety of improvements to buildings and energy efficiency measures, including replacing all the single-glazed windows at Deal Hospital with double glazing throughout, which will not only make significant financial savings, but also improve the condition of the hospital for patients and staff.

In east Kent, all community hospitals will be installed with voltage optimisation units which will, along with other schemes, reduce energy costs and help achieve carbon targets.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust is promoting the NHS Forest scheme to all their staff, where a tree will be planted in the name of every NHS employee to address problems such as declining air quality, drought and flooding risks.

The use of video and teleconferencing across the PCT’s three main sites in Medway, Whitstable and Tonbridge has also helped reduce the number of cars on the road.