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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Part of NHS Digital annual report and accounts 2021-22

Appendix A – Embedding sustainability across our organisation

Current Chapter

Current chapter – Appendix A – Embedding sustainability across our organisation

Our goal is for sustainability thinking to be embedded in everything we do. To achieve this, we need to inform and motivate our staff. In 2021-22, our Corporate Sustainability Programme improved access to sustainability data, increased transparency of our environmental impact and raised awareness of the sustainability agenda. All areas of our organisation, from corporate functions like Human Resources, Estates and Commercial, to ICT and Live Services, as well as individual employees have been actively involved in delivering sustainability improvements.

During 2021-22, we:

  • recorded a good set of results across the Greening Government Commitments (GGC) against our baseline of 2013-14. The results for 2021-22 are affected by COVID-19 impacts in a similar way to 2020-21
  • supported and complied with Procurement Policy Note PPN 06/20(‘Social Value weighting to the Award of Central Government Contracts’).Our Commercial team applied a 10% social value weighting to 86% of its new procurements. We are also now tracking the application of social value themes as part of the Commercial senior management team’s regular reporting 
  • continued to make significant progress in moving services from on-premise data centres to the public cloud in response to The Technology Code of Practice (TCOP) Sustainability Principle. As of March 2022, 56% of NHS Digital applications are now hosted on the cloud
  • migrated all services hosted in the HM Land Registry data centres to more sustainable Crown hosting and public cloud arrangements
  • improved the transparency of our cloud hosting reporting
  • reduced the impact of the applications used by our staff, by finding different ways to address the requirements of those applications that were particularly resource-hungry. This resulted in reduced downtime and increased productivity across end-user devices, for instance by cutting the level of server and computer resources required to host archives for our end users
  • continued to improve our buildings, estates and ICT waste management
  • reduced the level of infrastructure and network WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) waste going to landfill to less than 0.1%
  • of the total support assets disposed in the year, 75% were resold for reuse, the remaining 25% were recycled with the following results: 2,644,055kg Co2 saved through reuse, 9,385kg Co2 saved through recycling, 1,421,833,333 litres of water saved, 10,576,219 tonnes of earth not mined, and 13,424kg of ICT equipment not destined for landfill
  • donated 95 Surface Pro 4 devices, which were at the end of their normal useful life, to 2 schools and 2 hospitals
  • left our Trevelyan Square office in quarter 1 2021-22 with 0% waste going to landfill
  • set out our sustainability pledges in support of the Greener NHS programme. We asked employees about sustainability in our Pulse Survey to find out what mattered to them, and then responded by offering a range of sustainability-themed opportunities, including a virtual masterclass by a sustainability expert in January 2022, an employee Home Energy Guide to support our move to hybrid working, and providing regular sustainability ‘top tips’ in our weekly all-hands newsletter

We recognise our responsibility to drive and support change that can deliver a positive contribution to the UK Greening Government Commitments and the global climate change challenge.

We are planning multiple initiatives in 2022-23, building on the progress we have made, including:
  • increasing the adoption and optimisation of cloud services both within NHS Digital and across the wider NHS

  • continuing to improve the transparency and accuracy of our carbon footprint data, including focusing on the impact of our hybrid working policy. We will reflect this in our organisational reporting

  • developing guidance and tooling to allow programmes to estimate the net impacts of their digital services

  • improving engagement with, and assessment of, our supply chain, in particular our suppliers’ sustainability plans and impacts

  • continuing our engagement with our employees on sustainability

Our carbon footprint

NHS Digital was established in 2013. Data from our predecessor organisations was incomplete and our adopted baseline of 2013-14 reflects this.  

Sustainability performance 2021-22 compared with 2013-14

The data in this section for both 2021-22 and 2013-14 is based on NHS Digital’s reporting within the scope of the Greening Government Commitments (GGC).

The Greening Government Commitments (GGC) set out the actions UK government departments and their agencies will take to reduce their impacts on the environment. We submit quarterly and annual GGC reporting for our estate to DHSC. To prevent duplication of data across the full government estate, GGC reporting requires that departments and their agencies do not include cost or usage data associated with any government buildings within their estate where they are not the landlord. 

GGC requires individual departments to publish their own sustainability reports, either as part of their annual report, or as separate reports. Our Sustainability Annual Report for 2020-21 was published on 9 December 2021. 

Our report for 2021- 22 will be published later in 2022, and will be made available on our website.

Element % Change from baseline year Observations
Total CCG scope (tonnes CO2e) 68% reduction1  
Electricity consumption (tonnes  CO2e) 62% reduction1 Reducing results from installation of solar panels at Exeter in 2019-20. 
Gas use (tonnes CO2e) 88% reduction1  
Water use [m3] 78% reduction1  
Water diverted from landfill [tonnes] 93% increase  
Waste diversion rate 32% increase  
Paper procurement [reams] 97% reduction1  
Travel carbon footprint (tonnes C02e) 93% reduction1 2021-22 data includes 2 additional metrics (taxi journeys and car travel) which weren't available at the time of the 2013-14 baseline data set. 

The results for 2021-22 are affected by COVID-19 impacts in a similar way to results for 2020-21

Last edited: 8 November 2022 1:07 pm