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NHS Supply Chain launches new Sustainable Development Strategy

Thursday 17 October 2013

NHS Supply Chain has just launched its new Sustainable Development Strategy for the period 2013-16.

Developed in response to the increasing focus on sustainability across operational and procurement activity within the NHS, the new strategy follows the recent NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s (SDU) consultation, “A Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health, Public Health and Social Care System”.  The NHS SDU is due to launch its overarching strategy early next year, which NHS Supply Chain consulted on.

NHS Supply Chain’s strategy focuses on five key themes designed to build sustainable development across its own operations and procurement activity to benefit the NHS – Carbon, Community, Ethics and Responsibility, Natural Resources and Waste.  These will be supported through a strong delivery programme of activity to deliver change and improve how sustainability is embedded into everyday business activity. 

“Our Sustainable Development Strategy builds on our already strong track record across the sustainability arena” explains Colin Stuart, Sustainable Operations Manager, who, together with Ethical and Sustainability Manager Steph Gibney has led the development of the new strategy. “Since 2007, we’ve worked closely with the NHS Business Services Authority and the Department of Health to build a solid sustainability agenda, such as driving efficiencies across our distribution network, the introduction of a more ethical approach to procurement, support of the Government Buying Standards for food and catering services, and the development of food framework agreements that have sustainable credentials built into the evaluation process.” 

Since 2008, NHS Supply Chain has delivered a 14% reduction in carbon emissions, reduced energy consumption across its supply chain network by 18% and achieved a recycling rate of 71% from business waste.  The business has also taken the lead in a number of sustainable initiatives, including the trial of a new fleet of hybrid vehicles across its delivery network, saving 452 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent of taking 2 million car miles off the road.

“We know that, with the focus on delivering cost efficiencies, sustainability often falls down the agenda when it comes to trust procurement activity.  However, by creating a more sustainable supply chain, not only are we securing the future; we’re also managing risk.  Sustainable activities, such as reducing packaging and carbon, can deliver significant financial benefits to trusts as well in terms of reduced supplier costs and fuel usage.  It’s these hidden costs that can really add up.  By improving sustainability across the supply chain, we can pass these benefits onto customers.”

Activities outlined in the new strategy include increasing transport efficiency by reducing CO2 emissions from delivery vehicles by 2.5% year on year; increasing the energy efficiency of the business’ network of regional distribution centres by 2.5% year on year; and reducing waste generation by increasing recycling opportunities with both suppliers and NHS customers.

Some of the programmes will be a continuation of our existing work” explains Steph Gibney.  “However, we’ll also be introducing a number of new processes, such as supporting the government’s pledge to achieve sustainable palm oil within food and other products by 2015, and exploring opportunities for expanding our Labour Standards Assurance System across other contract areas where there are predictors or evidence of labour standards issues within the supply chain, such as direct textiles.  Our strategy is not about leaping into the unknown.  It’s about taking steps to continually improve by building on our existing achievements to benefit our customers.”

NHS Supply Chain’s Sustainable Development Strategy is available to download on their website at


Media enquiries:

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07738 071 826

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07730 202 668

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07776 457 201

Notes to editors

About NHS Supply Chain

Follow us on Twitter: @NHSSupplyChain

NHS Supply Chain is operated by DHL as Agent of the NHS Business Services Authority. It supports the National Health Service (NHS) and other healthcare organisations in England and Wales by providing end to end supply chain solutions.

The organisation was formed in 2006 from the NHS Logistics Authority and parts of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA). NHS Supply Chain aims to provide over £1 billion of savings to the NHS by 2016.

NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products and food for over 1,000 NHS trusts and healthcare organisations. It provides a single point of access to over 600,000 products ranging from bandages to sutures, from gloves to implants, and even diagnostic equipment such as MRI scanners.

Its management of the procurement process negates an NHS organisation’s need to tender through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Costs can also be reduced through its one-route solution that consolidates all products onto one invoice and delivery – this saves up to £1* per product in back office administration costs and removes up to 40 deliveries going into a trust compared with ordering goods separately. (*source: NHS Supply Chain 2009 value proposition study with Southampton NHS trust)

To ensure that its products are fit for today’s healthcare market, NHS Supply Chain works with suppliers of all sizes to ensure its range embraces high quality and innovative products; and engages with clinicians, the Department of Health and academic institutions to make sure that it is aware of the current requirements and latest developments in clinical practice.

NHS Supply Chain’s product areas include:

  • Theatres
  • Dental
  • Audiology
  • Catering, including food
  • Infection control
  • Orthopaedics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Capital equipment, including finance and maintenance.

Based in Alfreton, Derbyshire, UK, the business employs around 2,400 staff in ten locations.


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