In a tunnel…

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I guess the truth is, if we wanted to manage the NHS by the use of technology, we’d have done it by now.

I know there is ‘the investment thing’. But, if we really, really pants-on-fire wanted to do it… we’d have done it.

Instead, we have have a small army of enthusiasts, some disciples, a handful of evangelists and the rest of us come to work, put the kettle on, and wait for the computer to boot-up.

No strategy, no money and an exodus of CIOs.

Well, I think we are in for a shock. A change that will come quicker than than we all think and we have an unlikely person to thank for it… David Hooper.

You may remember David by his nomenclature ‘Swampy’, the environmentalist.

He hit the headlines by burrowing, tunnelling and living in trees. He opened our eyes to a future that could be either blue or black.

At one point he was arrested and appeared before a magistrate, none other than David Cameron’s Mum. Ouch!

You can trace forward his inspiration for other warriors and escapades, culminating in the latest; The Battle of Waterloo Bridge and the climate revolutionaries.

The environment is top of the news agenda. The zeitgeist.

A report, last week, says we should be carbon neutral by 2050. Net zero, to give it its correct title.

It’s a big ask. Turn-down the thermostat, put on a wooly hat, no more foreign holidays and it looks like the Jag’ is headed for the scrapyard.

There is little doubt the Government, will ‘have-a-go’ at carbon. They’ll see it as a vote winner.

Persuading the public they can’t eat red-meat is tricky. Clamping down on government departments is a lot easier and…

… the NHS will be in the firing line. Last time I looked the NHS had the carbon footprint of an elephant, the largest in Europe. I’m guessing we emit a million tonnes of carbon a year? Something like 5% of all UK’s emissions are NHS-related journeys.

We’ve done all this before. The NHS published its first carbon reduction strategy in 2009, and in 2015 it surpassed an interim target of reducing emissions by 10 per cent, despite significant increases in overall activity. In many ways the NHS is doing well.

In 2001, staff, patients and visitors travelled almost 25 billion passenger kilometres for NHS purposes. In the intervening years we have more staff, more patients, who will have more visitors. I hate to think what the latest numbers are… even if we have them?

About one in every 100 tonnes of domestic waste, generated in the UK, was from the NHS.

It was said, if acute hospitals in England turned off idle computers they would eliminate 90 kilo-tonnes of CO2 a year. The equivalent of flying 26,000 people from London to New York.

There is no doubt the NHS will be targeted by the Department of Blue-Skies and Fresh-air and the only way out is to start getting serious about using technology and how we ‘do business’.

Learn to move what we know to the people, instead of moving the people to where we know it.

• Outpatients will have to be on-the-phone or video, first.

• GPs will be obliged to use video consultations.

• Reducing the number of people who visit a Hosptial or practice means the building footprints can be smaller and cheaper.

• Sixty percent of NHS carbon arises out of procurement. We’ll only use suppliers with Net-Zero emissions, we can track.

• Generic pharmaceuticals are over 70% of prescriptions, mostly they come from overseas, medical devices are a global business. Expect the NHS to be banned from buying anything from suppliers we cannot track as Net-Zero.

• Building energy is +20% of the carbon footprint… time for better tech-controls, insulation and the use of renewables.

• Travel to meetings and conferences will stop. Face-2-Face becomes screen to screen.

• Admin and management staff who don’t need to be in a building will be transferred to home-working contracts, connected by networks, onscreen on the sofa, is the new office.

• Routine relative’s visits will be by video-phone.

• Ambulances will be electric.

• Red meat… off the hospital-menu, the food supply-chain replaced by ‘local’ where ever possible.

• Staff travel; bus, cycle or shank’s pony.

• Carparks will be for electric cars, only.

• Carbon reporting will be as rigorous as financial reporting.

• Expect a relentless focus on the public’s heath and preventing people getting sick… because it’s carbon efficient.

Ridding ourselves of carbon could be the lever for a ruthless drive to tech-based solutions, overdue reorganisation and the impetus we need to get serious.

For an organisation to break out of its silos, we have to thank a man who lived in a tunnel.

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.