NHS net zero targets: The importance of supply chain decarbonisation

Published on : 5/6/23
  • In this interview, we speak with Alex Hammond, Head of Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chain at NHS England, to find out more about its decarbonisation programme, supplier expectations and wider social value requirements.

    The NHS, as the first national health system globally to commit to becoming ‘carbon net zero’, must focus on its supply chain emissions, which contribute 60-70% of its total carbon emissions, to achieve its net zero ambition.  

    In this interview, we speak with Alex Hammond, Head of Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chain at NHS England, to find out more about its decarbonisation programme, supplier expectations and wider social value requirements.  

    The journey to achieving net zero 

    The NHS contributes between 4-5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, a similar amount to a country the size of Denmark. Getting to Net Zero will be complex and challenging, including several milestones along the journey to 2045.   

    With the supply chain contributing so significantly to NHS’ emissions, there is an expectation for suppliers to work collaboratively with provider trusts, their own supply chain, and competitors – sharing best practice and exceeding targets set. Alex explains, ‘We’ve put together our Net Zero Supplier Roadmap which sets out the requirements of our supply chain over the next 10 years, but we want our suppliers to go above and beyond that and not just hit the minimum targets – as it won’t get us to where we need to get to.’  

    During this Expert Series video, Alex discusses how the new Evergreen Framework encourages the sharing of best practice, the next steps in the journey and how the Fighting Climate Change theme fits in Social Value model. Discover more about these crucial developments and how suppliers can help Trusts achieve their objectives, aligned to the net zero supplier roadmap.  


    The importance of contractual ‘Social Value’  

    The Social Value Model (PPN 06/20) was extended in April 2022 to include the commissioning and purchase of good and services by the NHS – and sets out the expectations of procurement in helping achieve the Net Zero and Social Value goals of the NHS.  

    The mandatory minimum 10% net zero and social value weighting could encompass several themes, with Fighting Climate Change included in all tenders. Knowing which themes have the greatest impact for an NHS Trust will require dialogue and a collaborative approach as Alex describes ‘It’s got to be relevant to the contract. There’s not a one size fits all. The agenda around reducing health inequalities is really important. NHS England is working on an update to the Long Term Plan which will help shape some of the conversations going forward.’ 

    The eradication of modern slavery in the supply chain is also included in the Social Value Model, as Alex continues to explain ‘it’s hugely important and suppliers will be seeing more questions about what they’re doing to eradicate modern slavery in their supply chains and ensure it’s not there in the first place.’  

    Implementing the Evergreen Framework in 2023   

    With over 80,000 suppliers delivering almost every imaginable product and service to the NHS, there’s no single solution for delivering best practice. It is important that providers and suppliers align sustainability plans to the NHS’ net zero objectives.  

    The Evergreen sustainable supplier assessment is a tool designed to facilitate the engagement needed to deliver this. Co-developed with the supply chain, the Evergreen Framework helps determine which suppliers are providing the best products and services while also considering and acting upon what the NHS needs to get to net zero.