Sustainability Lead, ABHI
Sustainability is impacting all our lives, and with the NHS setting out clear sustainability targets, healthtech has a critical role to play.
Sustainability is increasingly significant to all our lives. Last year, the NHS set out a bold ambition to become the world’s first carbon net zero national health system by 2045. As a key part of the global supply chain, and its subsequent footprint, the healthtech industry has an important role to play.
However, for an industry with regulation at its core, and many other facets that determine the adoption and spread of technologies, such as NHS procurement, health policy and funding, a holistic approach needs to be taken on how this is implemented.
The regulatory balancing act
Sustainability is not straightforward for the healthtech industry, there is a complex interplay between clinical risk and environmental impact. The surge in demand for single-use PPE to combat COVID-19 has demonstrated this on a global scale.
Regulation, however, can be a useful tool for driving new sustainable practices. But, for an industry that is made-up predominantly of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), we must be mindful that any changes to regulation reflect this balancing act and do not create undue burden.
A set of sustainable procurement principles, designed in collaboration with the NHS and industry could ensure NHS organisations are all engaging with sustainable suppliers,
Sustainability in purchasing
Procurement is another important way for the NHS to achieve their targets, however, as with regulation, it needs to be well thought through in collaboration with industry. The healthtech sector is heavily engaged with the sustainability agenda and there is a desire to make sure that this does not become a tick box exercise, designed with good intentions, but with ineffective results.
A set of sustainable procurement principles, designed in collaboration with the NHS and industry could ensure NHS organisations are all engaging with sustainable suppliers, with a consistent level of effective criteria that embeds sustainability into purchasing decisions. At the ABHI, our dedicated Environmental Sustainability Group will be heavily engaged with the NHS and the wider healthcare community to realise such aims.
A future with sustainability at its core
The pandemic has demonstrated, like never before, the value of close collaboration between the healthtech industry and the NHS. Lord Bethell, remarked at ABHI’s recent regulatory conference that it was the healthtech sector that “stood up first at the onset of COVID-19, and it is the healthtech sector that the NHS will depend upon as it looks to restore its services to pre-pandemic levels.” If the NHS net zero targets are to be achieved, we must maintain this level of collaboration and engagement well into the future, with sustainability at its core.