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Sustainability Innovation Call is now open image

With the COP26 conference now firmly underway, Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) is seeking sustainable, forward-thinking ideas from health and social care professionals that can help support NHS Scotland to adapt, develop and strengthen in response to climate change

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – also known as the COP26 summit – is taking place in Glasgow from 31 October until 12 November, and the need for a sustainable health care system has never been clearer.

With NHS Scotland also committing to be a 'net-zero' greenhouse gas emissions organisation by 2045 at the latest, significant work is undoubtedly required. The behaviours of NHS Scotland’s 160,000-strong workforce will influence how the service mitigates and adapts to climate change impacts; and so, encouraging this diverse workforce to come up with new ways of working is vital and is at the heart of the latest Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) innovation call.

“Innovation that achieves sustainable outcomes can, and should be, entirely complementary to the enduring everyday drive for healthcare excellence. That’s why our sustainability call is so important at this time. Not just because COP26 is taking place in Glasgow and the eyes of the world are on Scotland, but also because NHS Scotland’s strides towards net zero can improve vital patient care, while achieving major lasting environmental and financial benefits too. A greener health service that responds to environmental risks and meaningfully changes the way it operates is a better health service”
Graham Watson, Executive Chairman, SHIL

The innovation call is open to anyone working across NHS Scotland and offers a package of support including:

  • up to £25,000 of initial funding
  • regulatory support
  • project management
  • extensive innovation expertise

Ideas fitting the green and sustainable theme may range from multiplex or lower carbon devices, to new greener packaging methods which can be composted or recycled rather than sent to landfill. New surgical equipment could incorporate plant-based sutures or dressings, or perhaps innovators could come up with a new approach to equipment that can be sterilised and re-used as opposed to single-use disposal.

Alternatively, digital technology solutions might help reduce patient journey requirements, while sensor technology could reduce fridge and freezer monitoring. New manufacturing processes such as 3D printing could also be a key element in helping to reduce waste and improve efficiency – there is really no limit.

SHIL have been working in partnership with NHS Scotland for over 20 years and have a solid track record of accelerating innovative ideas into products and services that are now used within the NHS, but also in health systems around the world. In support of the latest call, health boards across Scotland have been sharing their sustainable credentials and drive to do more.

Jane Hopton, Programme Director at NHS Lothian said: “Climate change represents the biggest risk to health of the 21st century. Health services will need to respond to the challenge by reducing their environmental impact, placing sustainability at the core of the organisation and developing greener and more environmentally sustainable models of care. 

“The call from SHIL is a much-needed opportunity for innovation in greener initiatives and higher quality care for patients and communities. We know from NHS Lothian that commitment and ideas from staff and patients are growing and access to innovation support through SHIL will accelerate getting these ideas into practice. NHS Lothian welcomes and will be supporting this call.”

Martin Johnston, Sustainability Manager at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde recently declared a climate emergency recognising that climate change is a significant threat to public health and is one which must be met with action. It is our goal to help our people and communities to lead healthy, active lives, with access to the tools and resources they need to continue to provide and access high-quality care. 

“We will work to make our buildings and services more efficient and sustainable. They will be welcoming places, pillars of our communities, with safe active travel routes utilised throughout. Our estates will be safe, attractive, green spaces for relaxation, exercise and positive wellbeing.

“Key to this is working with regional stakeholders and the communities we serve to see them free from pollution and negative environmental impacts.

“That’s why we’re backing SHIL’s sustainability innovation call which comes at an important time with COP26 taking place here in Glasgow and NHS Scotland striving to reach its 2045 target for a net zero health service which works for our people, our planet and our NHS.”

Submissions can be made now: 

This is a simple process, taking approximately 5-10 minutes. All submissions are confidential.

SHIL will be exhibiting at the NHS Sustainability Conference on Wednesday 10 November, and a briefing event will take place in late November/early December.

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