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Reducing the impact of NHS purchasing on the environment

Wednesday 23 April 2014

NHS Supply Chain is pleased to announce the launch of its Sustainable Development Report for the period 2012-2013. Since the last Sustainability Report was published in August 2012 there has been a step change at NHS Supply Chain in achieving Sustainable Development objectives.

Autumn 2013 saw the publication of NHS Supply Chain’s Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016 which set out goals and ambitions in this area. Today’s report looks back at NHS Supply Chain’s achievements to drive sustainable development and the progress that has been made.

“This report reinforces that NHS Supply Chain has an important role to play in delivering sustainable value to the NHS and in helping NHS customers to realise opportunities for sustainable development throughout procurement and logistics,” says Nick Gerrard, CEO NHS Supply Chain.

Some of the milestones in the report include:

  • Carbon reduction: improving carbon efficiency by 33% since 2008
  • Waste: recycling over 7,200 tonnes of waste since 2008
  • Natural resources: reducing water consumption by 15% per employee
  • Ethics & Responsibility: over 50 suppliers are working with NHS Supply Chain on Government Buying standards for Food and Catering to improve hospital food
  • Community: SMEs represent 50% of NHS Supply Chain’s suppliers and 27% of sales

The report highlights the economic challenges facing the NHS and the UK economy and the focus on delivering savings within non-pay spend. “Financial savings are a prime concern for NHS trusts,” says Colin Stuart, Operational Sustainability Manager at NHS Supply Chain. “We are working on sustainable solutions in the supply chain that offer both cost reduction and environmental benefits.”

The business has taken the lead on a number of sustainable initiatives working closely with both suppliers and customers to help reduce their impact on the environment. Waste backhaul projects have maximised the efficiency of the supply chain and greatly reduced waste from trust sites. As well as managing the waste that is produced, work with suppliers on packaging reduction has had a direct impact on sustainable development leading to cost savings and greater efficiency throughout the supply chain.

Together with operational successes, procuring and operating responsibly and ethically are imperative to ensure the NHS is sustainable. “To procure and operate responsibly consideration must be given to labour standards, responsible nutrition, food sourcing and Health and Safety,” says Stephanie Gibney, Ethical and Sustainability Manager, NHS Supply Chain. “We have been supporting suppliers to meet the contract conditions of the Labour Standards Assurance system to help drive ethical procurement. We’ve also been working hard with our food suppliers to make information on Government Buying Standards available on our food and catering contracts.”

By working closely with suppliers and gaining a greater understanding of customer needs, NHS Supply Chain is able to reduce the impact of the healthcare supply chain on the environment, and drive ethical procurement, bringing real benefits to customers at the same time.

A copy of the Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016 and the Sustainability Report 2012-13 are  available to download at


Media enquiries:

Jayesha Mistry
07738 071 826

Jennie Brice
07714 043 391

Joanna Morrison
07776 457 201

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.

Download the latest Sustainability Report

Delivering value to the NHS