Ethical Performance
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NHS trusts urged to start appointing CSR directors

December 2010

A far greater number of National Health Service foundation trusts in England should be employing sustainability directors, research has suggested.

A report from the Foundation Trust Network, which represents the trusts, says those employing dedicated staff to manage the entire sustainability agenda ‘will reap financial, clinical and reputational rewards’.

NHS foundation trusts are free from central government control, can retain surpluses generated to invest in new services, and local people can become members and governors.

Although a handful of the 131 trusts – such as the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Somerset Partnerships and Yorkshire Ambulance Service trusts – have posts akin to CSR or sustainability directors, many still lack a central individual or unit to oversee social and environmental performance. The report, Making sustainability add up, says this should change.

Kate Hinks, associate director of corporate social responsibility at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation trust, said trusts cannot afford to ignore the issue. ‘They may struggle to fund investment in sustainability now, but it will pay dividends in the longer term,’ she said. ‘In this economic climate, foundation trusts need to deliver a social return on investment for the community to which they are accountable and taxpayers generally, as well as delivering quality health services.’

Hinks said the creation of her post has allowed the Calderdale trust to become strategically involved in economic development, local partnerships, work on reducing health inequalities, local skills development and procurement policy changes.

The research found saving money was the most important driver for sustainability in those trusts that had tackled the issue, followed by the need to preserve and enhance reputation. Managers reported relatively little pressure from staff, patients or governing bodies for changes in behaviour.

By far the most common measures already being introduced in trusts are focused on environmental impacts, with little attention to social matters. 

National Health Service | UK & NI Ireland | Sustainability

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