IEMA hosted an informative webinar yesterday afternoon entitled 'Unlocking the Power of Sustainability Teams: A Journey of Benchmarking and Professional Development in Healthcare', showcasing the Institute’s influence in driving sustainability across NHS England and NHS Supply Chain. IEMA TRANSFORM's Deputy Editor Chris Seekings reports.

Over 100 sustainability and healthcare professionals gained valuable insights, experiences, and best practices from leaders supporting the NHS' goal to become the world's first net-zero health system by 2040.

Dr Shamir Ghumra, executive director of responsible business at NHS Property Services, led the discussion and was joined by panellists Heidi Barnard, Head of Sustainability at NHS Supply Chain, and Ian Stenton, National Sustainability Programme Manager at NHS England.

Stenton began by running through 'NHS estates sustainability career pathways’ guidance, explaining the different career pathways on offer for those looking to drive sustainability across the sector, whether it be an apprentice, electrician, building manager or sustainability officer.

“Since this was been published, we have been working with IEMA, which has mapped the different membership levels against skills and competencies, which allows someone looking for a job in the NHS to work out what IEMA membership levels they should be aiming for or already have,” he explained.

“We're aware of some of the recruitment barriers that people face and are trying to work through those. I’m also currently working with IEMA to look at how we can use the Green Careers Hub as part of this.”

Barnard then outlined the functions of NHS Supply Chain, before explaining how when it comes to tackling emissions, scope 3 is the main area of focus.

“We do the procurement side of things, and we move stuff, but we don’t make stuff. The assets that we do hold, we tend to lease, or a third-party leases on our behalf, so you are getting more distance from what you can take direct action on."

She continued: “99% of our impact is in scope 3, so if we are going to make inroads we need to influence the people our staff interact with on a daily basis, around changing the stuff we buy, how we buy it, and changing how people use things from a supplier and customer point of view. That’s why the first pillar of our sustainability strategy is all around people.”

She went on to explain how she used insights from a report by IEMA and Deloitte to develop a comprehensive ‘training matrix’ to provide guidance and support for empowered sustainability conversations across all roles and jobs.

The ‘blueprint for green skills workforce transformation report was also used by Barnard to identify sustainability gaps in NHS Supply Chain using a ‘maturity matrix’.

A lively discussion took place in the chat throughout the interactive webinar, with various thought-provoking questions posed to the panel.

These included questions about how widespread ISO standards are used within the NHS, how interactions with patients can be decarbonised, what the methodologies to calculate emissions from goods and services are, and how recruitment guidance is disseminated in academia.

IEMA’s corporate partnership team will continue to support the NHS and the wider healthcare supply chain with their net-zero ambitions by bringing sustainability experts together to share best practice and guidance.

Photo of Chris S
Chris Seekings

Deputy Editor of IEMA’s Transform magazine

Chris Seekings is the Deputy Editor of IEMA’s Transform magazine, which is published biomonthly for IEMA members. Chris’s role involves writing sustainability-related news, features and interviews, as well as helping to plan and manage the magazine’s other day-to-day activities. He also helps communicate and promote the broader work of IEMA and its members online, working alongside the Head of Media, Abigail Simmons, the Senior Media Officer, Tim Farmer, and Digital Journalist, Tom Pashby.


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