Ethical Performance
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NHS gets CSR bug as trust creates a health service first

September 2008

The corporate responsibility profession has gained a foothold within one of the world’s largest employers, the UK’s National Health Service.

Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust, which provides NHS services for more than 600,000 people in the west of England, has created the post of corporate sustainability manager to oversee sustainable development and carbon management.

The job is thought to be an NHS first, and more posts are expected to follow as efforts are being made to increase awareness among managers. In April a sustainable development unit was established ‘to ensure the NHS in England is the leading public sector organization in promoting sustainable development and mitigating climate change’.

The four-person unit, based in Cambridge, has introduced an NHS carbon reduction strategy for England, which was out for consultation until last month. The strategy, planning cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050, says all parts of the service should develop sustainability policies. The NHS is the UK’s largest public sector contributor to climate change, producing more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and with 1.3 million employees is the third largest employer in the world behind the Chinese army and India’s state railway.

Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust spokeswoman Caryn Hall told EP: ‘We feel we have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint corporately, not just in our three key areas of travel, procurement and building use, but also by bringing our influence to bear in partnerships with other organizations.’

The trust has a £734million ($1.37billion) forecast budget for 2007–08, 3600 staff, 83 general practices, 11 hospitals, and district nursing and health visiting services. The corporate sustainability manager, earning up to £38,000 a year, will sit within the trust’s public health division. However, the incumbent, who was being appointed as EP went to press, will work across all divisions.

A sustainable development manager at the NHS supplies purchasing division monitors value for money when goods and services are bought, but Hall is not aware of a corporate sustainability post elsewhere in the organization. ‘From our discussions with the sustainable development unit it appears that we’re unusual in what we’re doing,’ she said. The division is sponsoring an award for suppliers involved in work on ‘any aspect of sustainable development’, for which entries close on 17 October.

In 2006 the NHS issued a corporate citizenship assessment model, focusing on patient safety, being a good employer and working with communities.

National Health Service | UK & NI Ireland | Public Sector


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