A Healthcare Assistant from St George’s Hospital – the first Trust in England to introduce a carbon neutral patient menu – will be featured in the COP26 climate change conference this week.

The south west London hospital, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, has generated enough power for the National Grid to boil 46 million kettles in 2019-20, and cut 23 tonnes of carbon through the carbon neutral patient menu, the equivalent of planting 30 acres of forests.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive, said: “Even in the peak of the pandemic and while caring for record numbers of patients, staff at St George’s were taking steps to lower carbon emissions because they also care for our planet.

“We are all so proud to see Marsha representing St George’s at COP26 – our staff provide outstanding care to patients every day, so it is no surprise that people like Marsha also care deeply about meeting the challenge of the climate emergency.”

St George’s is committed to delivering a sustainable healthcare strategy through a range of initiatives, such as an innovative Recycled Food Wastage scheme, which takes food waste and converts it into electricity and biofuel. From April to September 2021, 55 tonnes of food waste from St George’s was converted into enough electricity to power 55 homes for a month.

Healthcare Assistant Marsha Lord is one of just nine NHS workers appearing in a photographic exhibition at the climate change conference taking sustainable action to help achieve net zero carbon emissions. The exhibition, entitled “Care for the future: delivering the world’s first net zero health service”, celebrates the NHS staff who are supporting the transformation to greener healthcare.

St George’s has already introduced a range of recycling, energy saving and carbon reduction programmes. These include:

  • Implementing a new programme to reduce emissions from anaesthetic gases. Using the most harmful gas, desflurane, for one hour is equivalent to a 213-mile car journey. St George’s has reduced its use of desflurane, which has contributed to CO2 emissions from this gas falling by 63% in 2020-21
  • Using recycled surgical instruments and items in operating theatres. For instance, in hand surgery, an estimated 22,000 items per year have been saved from the surgical kits used in operations
  • A combined Heat and Power plant on the St George’s site provides excess renewable energy back to the National Grid – 1.9million KWh was exported back in 2019-20, enough to boil a kettle over 46 million times
  • St George’s is the first Trust in the country to introduce a carbon-neutral patient menu, sourced from ingredients with a low carbon footprint. Around 23 tonnes of carbon is saved, the equivalent of planting 30 acres of forests.

Dr Emma Evans, Clinical Lead for Sustainability for the NHS in south west London and Consultant Anaesthetist at St George’s, said: “We all have a role to

play in tackling climate change, and it is right that St George’s plays its part in making the NHS the world’s first net zero health service.

“As clinicians, we can make a difference through small changes to the way we work, such as using anaesthetic gases with a reduced carbon footprint, and still provide the same excellent patient care.”

Marsha Lord, Healthcare Assistant at St George’s, said: “It was great to take part in such an important project, and to learn that my photo will be on display at an international conference attended by world leaders. For me, taking small steps such as recycling on the wards is so easy to do and if it helps to protect the planet, then it makes sense for us and for our patients.”

The NHS was asked to create the photo exhibition that showcases the many ways organisations across England are tackling climate change. The exhibition will be on display in the Blue Zone of the COP26 venue in Glasgow.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact communications@stgeorges.nhs.uk.