Mandatory sustainability reporting for all NHS trusts

20-Apr-2012

Treasury demands evidence of how NHS is addressing carbon reduction challenge

A guide has been issued to help NHS trusts after the introduction of mandatory reporting on sustainability.

The NHS Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) and the Department of Health (DH) have developed a template to aid trusts to complete their reports after the previously voluntary scheme became compulsory this month.

A spokesman for the NHS SDU said: “Improving the sustainability of the NHS and reducing the NHS carbon footprint has the benefit of saving money. To this end, the NHS SDU and colleagues in the Department of Health worked together to devise a more comparable, consistent and data driven way for the NHS to report on sustainability.

The framework produces a report which should be included in the annual reports of NHS organisations as part of the process of making the NHS more financially and environmentally sustainable, and showing patients and other stakeholders that the NHS is adapting to change

“The result of this is an innovative framework for reporting sustainability information as part of the annual NHS financial reporting process. The framework produces a report which should be included in the annual reports of NHS organisations as part of the process of making the NHS more financially and environmentally sustainable, and showing patients and other stakeholders that the NHS is adapting to change.”

He added that most of the information needed to complete the paperwork would already be available as part of existing reporting processes in other areas, including Estates Return information Collection (ERIC) data.

“The project which developed the framework had the express goal of creating no additional data gathering burden, and used guidance already issued by the NHS SDU, financial report information and existing best practice from the NHS to develop a complete panel of information,” he said.

The resulting sustainability reports will include a mixture of quantitative and qualitative indicators, highlighting the progress that all NHS organisations are making in shrinking their carbon footprint, reducing their energy emissions, and improving their environmental impact. They also include an opportunity for organisations to discuss their plans for the future, as well as their past performance and help to reinforce the link between financial and environmental performance in the NHS.

The project which developed the framework had the express goal of creating no additional data gathering burden, and used guidance already issued by the NHS SDU, financial report information and existing best practice from the NHS to develop a complete panel of information

The introduction of sustainability reporting comes just days after an SDU study unearthed continued apathy among NHS staff to the importance of cutting carbon emissions and making services more sustainable.

The report laid out a five-point plan to boost acceptance of the need for environmental improvements and highlighted the issues standing in the way of more widespread adoption of sustainable services.

FACTS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING

  • Is reporting voluntary or mandatory? As of 2011/12, it is mandatory, requiring all NHS trusts to include reports as part of their annual reporting processes
  • Who is making it a mandatory requirement? The Department of Health on behalf of the Treasury
  • Who will be enforcing it? As it will be part of the annual reporting requirements, enforcement will be by the auditors who will ensure requirements are met
  • Who collects the information? The framework uses ERIC data and qualitative questions to illustrate the sustainable actions of a trust. The output is designed to be included in the financial statements of the organisation and so will need to be included in the co-ordination activities of the finance department
  • What is the mechanism for reporting? The framework is not for reporting to the dearptment and does not form part of any central returns process . It uses data which exists within trusts to take the steps being taken towards a sustainable health system more public
  • Is this additional to other reporting requirements, for example Monitor, ALE and KLOE, or does it replace them? It is an additional requirement brought about in part as a result of additional requirements being introduced by the Treasury
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