Countdown to Net Zero Conference

With just days to go until the inaugural IHPN net zero conference, my excitement (and trepidation!) is on the rise. IHPN has been supporting members for nearly two years in their own organisational journey to net zero. This has been a combination of bringing together subject matter expertise and increasingly importantly the sharing of best practice between independent healthcare providers. And of course, the notable voluntary industry wide commitment of scope 1 and 2 by 2035 and scope 3 by 2045 which showcases the ambition of independent healthcare providers to get to net zero as fast as possible.

For me, the best part of leading this work programme is hearing the great examples that are happening every day across the sector to reduce carbon and often leading to reductions in operational costs. It is also awe inspiring to hear from the people that work for independent healthcare providers – both clinicians and employees more generally – the way they are creating change, looking differently at what they do, all whilst maintaining the best possible outcomes for patients.

I had resisted the idea of “getting people in a room” to talk about net zero for obvious sustainability reasons. But after two years, I feel that the most value is being driven by that sharing of best practice and members talking to each other. And so, the idea of a conference was born.

It was important to us to use the conference to mark a change too. Most of the work that has taken place to date has focussed on measuring/baselining and practical ways to reduce scope 1 and 2 – for obvious reasons, as it is the place to start and arguably the easiest to achieve. That work is clearly not done but it is safe to say that everyone is starting to think increasingly about supply chains, both upstream and downstream, and managing and responding to key relationships within that including importantly the NHS and insurers. The challenge to effectively manage supply chains to net zero is an area that most providers are starting to grapple with and so we wanted the agenda of the conference to reflect this.

And so, we come to the agenda which has two distinct sessions. The first looks at how providers can effectively manage their supply chain towards net zero with subject matter expertise from Richard Hilson, Principal Consultant for Corporate Sustainability at Gemserv, and Alex Hammond, NHS England’s Head of Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chain. The employee voice will come through loud and clear from Brittany Bowen and Rachael Brown, two Florence Nightingale Sustainability Nurses, and how clinicians and employees more generally can drive change from the bottom up with a practical example by Mauvena Rowe-Mason, Clinical Duty Manager, from the London Bridge Hospital.

The second session focuses on how organisations consider and move towards more sustainable investments including importantly pension funds. This is new territory for most of us and we are fortunate to have both Ido Eisenberg, Sustainable Investment, from Deloitte and Anthony Wright, Chief Financial Officer, from the Medical Defence Union who will guide us on where to start and what good looks like.

And we kick the whole conference with a thought-provoking talk from Dr Jonny Groome, who specialises in paediatric anaesthesia, and is concerned about the future of the patients he serves, and the impact healthcare and other industries are having on our planet. In 2018, he set up The Greener Anaesthesia & Sustainability Project (GASP), a national multidisciplinary group working to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare in the UK and beyond.

Over time GASP has grown to be a group of sixty dedicated volunteers from all over the world working out of four domains; education, improvement, advocacy, and consulting. Jonny has extensive experience working alongside healthcare organisations, suppliers, professional bodies, and the building industry helping them towards a future of net zero emissions. This year he was appointed as Associate Medical Lead for Sustainable Healthcare at Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity. We are all in for a treat.

My final thought – really looking forward to seeing you all on the 18th. It should be a great afternoon that will make us all think, give us loads of new ideas on how to reduce carbon usage, and hopefully meet a group of likeminded people that could become a community of practice to provide support over the coming months and years. Oh, and did I forget the networking drinks?