Establishing a blueprint for a sustainable NHS with Lexmark

by Paid content

23 October 2020

How NHS investments in technology are reaping greener rewards.

Across the world, businesses and organisations have been forced to adapt in response to the coronavirus pandemic adopting digital processes to mitigate the disruption caused, writes Sylvie Thomas, Lexmark’s head of EMEA sustainability policies & CSR.

Paid content from LexmarkThis has resulted in businesses having to accelerate their digital transformation journey – but whilst the NHS has worked to mitigate the impact of coronavirus and focused on treating the health of the nation, its investment in technology has enabled it to adapt in terms of efficiency and accessibility, whilst also placing sustainability at the forefront of its outcomes by putting sustainable processes in place. 

Looking towards the future, the NHS has recognised that climate change also poses a major threat to our health as well as to our planet, which in turn has direct and immediate consequences for patients, the public and the health service itself. 

In January 2020, NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens announced the launch of the ‘For a Greener NHS’ programme, which aims to mobilise the 1.3 million staff across the NHS to take action. The main goal of this programme is to build on the excellent work already being done by NHS trusts throughout the UK and encourage the sharing of ideas to help reduce the impact on public health, save money and eventually go ‘net carbon zero’. 

This programme is certainly one of a kind, positioning the NHS as a leader in sustainability as the only major health system in the world to tackle climate change from all angles. However, to succeed requires support and participation from the NHS staff, along with suppliers and partners of the NHS to establish a standardised baseline for sustainable practice.

Technology plays a key role in supporting the move towards more sustainable practices and is included as a main pillar in the NHS’s long term plan – which sets out a wide-ranging and funded programme to upgrade technology and digitally enabled care across the NHS.

This outlines a commitment to improve the use of technology to make 30+ million outpatient appointments redundant, sparing patients thousands of unnecessary trips to and from hospital, whilst reducing the use of resources through digitisation of processes such as document management.

Green building As part of the NHS’s long-term sustainability plan, there is also an emphasis on reducing waste with a focus on the materials used, minimising waste where possible. Investment in technology is of course a key component of reducing waste, with many NHS trusts looking to move to a paper-lite office environment, which leverages technology to move from paper intensive processes to more efficient and streamlined digital processes.

The HFMA Environmental Sustainability Special Interest Group has been working diligently to ensure NHS trusts are recognised for implementing good practice in embedding environmental and social sustainability.

They ensure these processes and the wide range of benefits offered are highlighted across the NHS to progress the group’s move towards financial and sustainable success. This includes operating within safe financial and environmental limits, to developing robust, resilient and future proof models of prevention and care.

Lexmark’s work with Aintree University Hospital (AUH), now part of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT), was recognised at the ‘NHS in the North Excellence in Supply Awards’, as an example of how working with a committed sustainable supplier, can have a major impact – not only on the efficiency savings throughout the trust but ultimately on the environment.

The five-year smart Managed Print Services agreement has seen Lexmark consolidate Aintree University Hospital’s print devices by over 70%, improved information security and further aims to reduce its paper usage by 30%+, providing a platform on which to drive continuous improvement and control.

Aintree University Hospital has also implemented the Lexmark Cartridge Collection Programme (LCCP), part of Lexmark’s zero-landfill policy. The programme ensures materials extracted during the reclamation process, including plastics, various metals and toner, are reused in packaging and parts to further protect our natural resources.

As a result, Aintree University Hospital alone recycled 659 units equivalent to 828kg of materials recovered, equal to 2,889kg of CO2 savings or 1,225 litres of petrol use avoided.

Like LUHFT, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust (LWH) also needed to respond to the ‘For a Greener NHS’ – a programme created to drive digital processes and reduce waste paper in the office. 

As few hospitals can make the jump from paper-based processes to fully digital in one step, LWH turned to Lexmark to review its existing printer fleet, and recommend and then implement a solution to support the journey towards ‘paperless’. LWH chose Lexmark to consolidate its unmanageable, costly printer infrastructure to reduce costs, eliminate waste and support a drive towards digital working practices.

Since implementation, Lexmark MPS has consolidated LWH’s devices by over 30%, with a 70% reduction in spend and a 20% reduction in page volumes on a year-on-year basis. Following on from these promising results, LWH plans to now use this project as a platform to adopt further ‘paper-lite’ initiatives through a modular approach.

The success of Lexmark’s integration with LWH and its shared desire with the team at the trust to proactively action the ‘For a Greener NHS’ programme is an achievement the Liverpool Women’s digital transformation team is keen on sharing. LWH are looking to collaborate with NHS trusts who would like to leverage their experience of effectively managing output as part of a broader digital strategy, to share their experiences among NHS trusts and suppliers alike.

Everyone who works in healthcare, or works in partnership with healthcare organisations and services, has a responsibility to take action on the health emergency posed by climate change. Through sharing best practices and proactively driving towards more efficient, sustainable processes, we can all play a part in improving patient care and reducing the impact on the environment on delivering such care.

‘Our successful implementation with Lexmark is a prime example of how the NHS can work with sustainable suppliers to create examples that can be shared with other NHS trusts to move the service towards an efficient and greener future. The tangible benefits of the project are testimony to the work the NHS has done in establishing a sustainable blueprint across the service from NHS staff, to suppliers and partners
of the service.’

Raquel Quinteiro-Silva
Sustainability and Energy Manager
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

‘At LUHFT, we are dedicated to ensuring our investment in technology supports our future growth alongside our commitment to the environment. Our work with Lexmark reflects this ethos, delivering a tangible return on investment that furthers our digital transformation journey in an ethical and sustainable manner.’

Ian Jones
Deputy Chief Finance Officer /Director of Finance (Operations)
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

‘For the success of the NHS long-term plan, it’s imperative that sustainability is high on the priority list for finance and procurement teams when selecting suppliers. Not only has our work with Lexmark reduced our print spend by 70%, it has also enabled us to create a sustainable foundation from which we can continue to build on.’

Matt Connor
Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust