How to save energy NHS-style

Blackpool Teaching Hospital has embedded simple energy efficient behaviours amongst its staff as part of a national project to help NHS Trusts cut costs.

Under pressure from the growing funding gap for healthcare in the UK, NHS Trusts are increasingly looking to energy efficiency to cut costs.

For example, Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester has slashed its energy costs by nearly £2 million following a £7 million investment in energy saving measures last year.

However, NHS Trusts are finding that significant savings can be made without large capital investment.

Behaviour change

Operation TLC, a programme run by environmental NGO Global Action Plan, has helped hospitals make progress by training staff to adopt simple energy efficient behaviours. 

The TLC stands for three universal actions that can be used to cut energy: Turn off equipment; Lights out; Control temperatures.

According to Global Action Plan, an individual NHS Trust can reduce energy costs by up to six per cent through these simple measures. The full programme has already saved six NHS Trusts £580,000 a year, meaning that the entire NHS could save around £35 million annually by taking part.

One of the successful projects is Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. The hospital worked with Operation TLC to run three campaigns covering each action area.

Teams were equipped with the knowledge to take control of their heating systems so that they could control room temperatures.

Staff were also trained to turn off unnecessary lighting during the day and rely on natural lighting where possible, as well as implementing a ‘night-time switch off’ programme. 

Lastly, laboratories, x-ray departments and other areas with high energy usage were encouraged to switch off their equipment when not in use.

Proven benefits

Although small, these actions amounted to a saving of £84,000 over the course of a year. Lights were turned off 67 per cent more often during the day and 50 per cent more often at night, while PCs and monitors in laboratories were switched off 36 per cent more often than previously. 

At the same time, patient satisfaction with ward temperatures at the hospital increased by 33 per cent.

Derek Quinn, communications manager at Blackpool Teaching Hospital, said: “There are lots of projects at Blackpool but Operation TLC definitely stands out. It interlinks well with our Trust Strategy where we're focusing on cost savings and using resources in a better way.”

Posted under Energy Efficiency and Public / Government / Charity on 7 March 2017