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Supporting a green agenda for the NHS

In 2007 the NHS England carbon footprint rose to 21 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e). There are now directives in place to achieve reductions in the NHS carbon footprint: 10% by 2015, 34% by 2020, 64% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

N3 enabling sustainable benefits for the NHS

About one fifth of the NHS England Carbon footprint is transport related because traditional clinical processes require patients and staff to meet each other.

Dr. David Pencheon, Director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, says: "One thing we can do, instead of moving all those people around, is to move information around. That's where the huge importance of network technology - such as the N3 broadband network provided by BT - is so influential."

N3 IP technology presents opportunities for measurable environmental gains as well as patient and staff benefits:

  • Stimulate a change in the way people work
  • Accessibility to national applications to enable local services and reduce wastage
  • Using new technologies to enable collaborative working
  • Increase the energy efficiency of the core network

(i)            Changing the way people work

N3 has deployed 30,149 Remote Worker tokens for the NHS (20 August 2012). The N3 Remote Worker tokens let users work away from their normal place of work, or a patient's home knowing that information is exchanged securely, efficiently and in real time. Community Nurses are using tokens to enable greater patient contact in the patient's own home.

Currently, 23% of NHS staff with these tokens activates remote access one day every week. This is saving an estimated 1887231 days of staff commuting travel per year, equating to 7.45m Km of home to office travel and 1066 tonnes of CO2. If this was extended to the wider NHS staff and each was encouraged to work just one day a week at home, the incremental savings would be nearly 3.8m commuting days and over 27,000 tonnes of CO2.

(ii)           Accessibility to National Applications

Every week 3,527,916 Prescriptions transgress the N3 network utilising the Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions (ETP) service.

Over 306,774,292 prescriptions (01 March 2010) had been sent electronically over N3, leading to savings of 1632 Tonnes of paper (this is equivalent to around 39000 trees2) and 5747 tonnes of CO23.

When N3 carries the majority of prescriptions, this will save the NHS an estimated 4,197 tonnes of paper (this is equivalent to around 100,000 trees2) and 14,100 tonnes of CO2 savings per year3, whilst saving £2.7m in procurement costs4

(iii)          Collaborative working

A number of Trusts are already utilising N3 to link healthcare professionals in different locations via video-conferencing. This has proved particularly successful for multi-disciplinary meetings (MDTs). One Trust alone, West London Cancer Network, has reported that using conferencing over N3 has already saved them 5,500 hours of consultants' time and 10,000 hours of general NHS staff time each year by eliminating the need for staff travel.

The N3 Managed Video Conferencing Service was launched in July 2010. 25,818 video conferencing calls have been made (August 2012) since the launch and has saved the NHS:

  • £ annual travel savings
  • working hours saved
  • staff productivity savings
  • Km in travel savings
  • CO2 tonnes savings

(iv)            Efficiency of the Core Network

N3 represents a significant technological investment by the NHS. N3 has upgraded its core network infrastructure from multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to 21st century (21C) Ethernet technology. The core network has reduced from 57 Points of Presence (POP's) to 10, which has dramatically reduce current energy levels by 80% and saved an estimated 1,100 tonnes of CO2 .