Our Climate Emergency

From left to right: Dr Cathy Lawson, James Dixon – Head of Sustainability, Dr Suren Kanagasundaram,James Dixon – Head of Sustainability and Professor Sir John Burn who all spoke to Channel 4 News about our declaration.

Thanks to young people like Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish school girl who recently spoke to

world leaders at the World Economic Forum, and the Extinction Rebellion movement, it feels like more of the world has woken up to the threats of climate change on our planet, and on our health.

It’s widely accepted that humans have already caused irreversible temperature change, and there is an increasing realisation that the changes which Governments have committed to in the past will not be enough to halt this decline.

This serves as a stark reminder that we can all make a contribution to protecting our planet. By minimising single use plastics, reducing our energy consumption and being more mindful about the resources we use, we can make a difference – and we all have a personal responsibility to do that.

Public organisations around the world are also responding and I am delighted to say that, last week, our Board agreed that Newcastle Hospitals should also declare a climate emergency, becoming the first NHS trust in the country to do so.

It means we are joining with our partners in the City Council and Newcastle University in committing to take action about our organisations’ impact on the world.

This declaration commits us to becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2040, ten years ahead of the current legal requirement. It sends a clear message that the Trust recognises – and gives weight to – the threat that climate breakdown poses to public health, and that we lead other healthcare organisations in committing to fast-tracking our plans to achieve carbon neutrality, improving the health of our population in the process.

We already have a reputation for leading on efforts to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare service delivery from being one of the first trusts to install efficient on-site combined heat and power energy centres at the turn of the century, to being the first Trust in Europe to implement reusable sharps boxes 15 years ago.

The Trust has an award-winning sustainability team that is helping to embed sustainability into our healthcare services and empower staff to make sustainable choices for the benefit of our patients and wider population. I was pleased to see the huge progress that we have made already including:

  • We buy electricity from 100% renewable sources, where we don’t produce our own on site.
  • We have been zero waste to landfill since 2011.
  • We recycle over 40% of our non-clinical waste.
  • We received Board approval for investing in fully electric buses for staff, patients & visitors.
  • We have removed single use plastics, such as cutlery and plates, from Trust restaurants and cafes
  • providing compostable alternatives.
  • We include sustainability specification and evaluation criteria in all procurement contracts.
  • We are ranked number one for sustainability reporting in the NHS.

Some of our teams have also taken a leading approach to reducing the impact of the healthcare we provide. The renal team have been working for several years to minimise the environmental impact of dialysis – a process which uses huge amounts of energy and waste products – while in anaesthetics, Dr Cathy Lawson was appointed as the UK’s first environmentally sustainable anaesthesia fellow, and works to raise awareness of the global impact of anaesthetic gases and alternatives.

There are also brilliant examples of work that all of our Green Champions are undertaking every day, and this is an area where all of us have a part to play. For example, we could all chose to use reusable cups and segregate our waste correctly, recycling wherever possible. The sustainability team are always keen to hear from people who would like to become Green Champions, and sign up to our Green Impact Campaign.

If you’d like to play more of a part in this important work you can contact them by emailing
[email protected], or find out more information about how you can get involved on the intranet.

I’m pleased to say that our #Flourish focus for August will be looking at the ways we can all contribute to Sustainable Healthcare in Newcastle (Shine) so look out for more information.


It’s great to see that staff are registering to take part in the Great North 5k event on Saturday 7 September. In partnership with the Great North Run Company and Benefits Everyone, we have 200 places available at the subsidised price of £10 (instead of £22).

If you’ve never ran before, this is a great way to dip your toe in the water and get fit at the same time and it would be fantastic if we could fill all 200 places! Tickets are available through the Benefits Everyone website

However if running (or walking) isn’t your thing, I’d encourage staff to have a look at our latest Flourish campaign – #WorkPerks. Throughout July, we are sharing deals and offers you can take advantage of. Visit the flourish website here.

If you didn’t get to the RVI earlier this week, there is still an opportunity to visit our second Benefits Everyone summer festival at the Freeman Hospital on Wednesday (10 July) between 11am and 2.30pm. Again it’s an opportunity to meet grab some lunch and see some of the special offers we have for staff.

Join us at Northern Pride festival and Breakfast

Northern Pride Festival (formerly Newcastle Pride) is returning for a weekend of LGBT+ celebrations in the heart of Newcastle from the 19th – 21st July 2019.

This year we are delighted that Newcastle Hospitals will join the Stonewall Remembrance March – a sea of rainbow flags, LGBT+ people, allies, individuals and organisations who join together to parade through the city centre. Over 20,000 people took part the parade last year and we’d like to welcome staff, their families and friends to join us in the march.

The day will start with a Pride Breakfast in the Piano Room at the RVI at 10am hosted by Martin Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, and the Staff Networks. Martin said: “As a gay employee of the Trust, and a Director on the Board, I’m delighted that we are actively supporting Northern Pride this year. Pride is a great visible example of #Flourish in action both for our staff, and for the patients and public of the north east. Pride is not just about LGBT+ equality, it’s about showing that at Newcastle Hospitals equality, diversity and human rights for everyone are really important.”

All NHS employees are welcome to attend the Breakfast. Booking is not a requirement but to ensure we have adequate catering please email the [email protected] to let us know you’re joining us.

Community Directorate Celebration event

The community directorate will hold a celebration event showcasing their outstanding clinical and professional developments. You are welcome to drop into rooms 137/138 in the Education Centre at the Freeman this Tuesday (9 July). Please call in and find out more about this important part of our organisation.

Out and About

This is my first message since the staff awards took place on Friday 21 June, and what an amazing evening it was. Congratulations again to all of our winners and finalists. It was great to see everyone having such a good time.

Last week I was able to host a dinner of the Shelford Trust Chief Executives with Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, and it was a good opportunity to talk frankly about some of the important issues which affect our NHS services in the North East.

This week I had a particularly busy day on Tuesday, meeting the research team at Regent Point in the morning, and then spending the evening with our rheumatologists at the Freeman Hospital. Part of the discussion was around the recent getting it right first time (GIRFT) visit and the plans they have for the future of rheumatology services.

Today (5 July) I am at the second meeting of the NHS Assembly where the discussion will focus on our NHS workforce, both supporting our current workforce and creating an organisation that will encourage others to work with us, as well as a session on how the NHS can achieve zero net carbon by 2050. This is another opportunity to make sure our experiences here in Newcastle are influencing the national agenda.

Awards and Achievements

Our continued commitment and drive to make a difference to patient care is reflected in the latest awards and achievements of our staff:

  • Good to see Newcastle Hospitals in the top three of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Research Activity League Table with 501 studies recruited to in 2018/19. To remain in the top three trusts in England is fantastic and is a testament to the work we are doing to improve future treatments and care for patients.

    Lisa Morgan, who won the overall ‘Healthcare Assistant Award’ at the RCNi Nurse Awards
  • Congratulations to cardiothoracic theatres family-centred care lead, Lisa Morgan, who won the overall ‘Healthcare Assistant Award’ at the RCNi Nurse Awards in London for the work she does to support young patients and their families prior to going to theatre for heart surgery.I also have to mention and congratulate our three other finalists at the awards – Newcastle CRUK (Cancer Research UK) senior nurse Ben Hood, the carers and young carers working group and paediatric oncology research sister Lisa Price.
  • We were also finalists in the ‘Perioperative and Surgical Care Award’ category at the HSJ’s Patient Safety Awards for our work to improve the safety and quality of peri-operative care for patients with diabetes. This is great example of collaborative working in a range of specialties including diabetes, peri-operative care, vascular surgery and pharmacy.
  • Our weekly stand-up meetings, which are open to leaders across the Trust and have quickly become a really important part of our operating model, were featured in the NHS Academy of Fab Stuff this week.