Digital Services and Sustainability
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is ever searching for new and innovative ways to adapt the way in which we use digital services to positively contribute to our sustainability agenda.
As a Health Board we have been expanding the use of telemedicine in order to deliver care more remotely, as well as using digital systems to reduce the use of paper records, printing and postage.
What is telemedicine?
“Telemedicine allows healthcare professionals to diagnose, evaluate, and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. The approach has been through a striking evolution in the last decade and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the American healthcare infrastructure.” – (ChironHealth, 2021)
Ways in which we can do this is by reducing energy running digital hardware that are underused or over specified, we have moved to a more virtual server farm, where capacity is provided based upon need, and regulated based upon demonstrable usage.
We have been modernising the Digital infrastructure in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and Wales. This has been done by utilising off premises Cloud provided solutions, such as Microsoft Office 365, and the nationally hosted share-point suite.
There are many advantages of server virtualisation, such as;
Video consultations are on the increase, this year alone we have been able to provide over 50,000 consultations, in turn saving around half a million patient travel miles (and counting!), and approximately 140 tonnes of CO2.
Our video appointments are fully secure and confidential, allowing patients to receive the same level of care that they are used to receiving at our hospitals, without having to leave their home, travel, or find parking on site. Where clinically suitable, patients may be offered an appointment by video or telephone so that they have the opportunity to see their clinician as conveniently as possible.
Video appointments are accessed via the internet from a computer, tablet, or mobile phones, using the Chrome or Safari web browsers. Computer users will also need a web camera (usually built into laptops) and a headset or speakers. Appointments are free to attend if patients are using their Wi-Fi.
Digital and Procurement
The Digital team have been working collaboratively with the Procurement department on increasing the evaluation of energy efficiency, and ecological sustainability of Digital systems and solutions that Cardiff and Vale University Health Board procure.
Microsoft Teams has been ‘supercharged’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic so as to reduce travel within the Health Board Sites, and from home to site for work meetings.
“Microsoft Teams reached 115 million daily active users. This growth reflects the increased and continued demand for Teams as the lifeline for remote and hybrid work during the pandemic, helping people and organisations in every industry stay agile and resilient in this new era.” – (Microsoft, 2021)
Around 2000 networked laptops, coupled with a refresh of over 1000 community mobile working devices has enabled a far more agile model of working across the Health Board. Working from home is increasingly more tangible, with access to a vast array of products, and services that staff require. In turn, remote working has also contributed to the reduction in commuter pollution.
ChironHealth, 2021. What is Telemedicine?. [Online]
Available at: https://chironhealth.com/telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine/
[Accessed 27 September 2021].
Microsoft, 2021. A new way to work and learn for a new digital age. [Online]
Available at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/10/28/microsoft-teams-reaches-115-million-dau-plus-a-new-daily-collaboration-minutes-metric-for-microsoft-365/
[Accessed 27 September 2021].
Pickett, P., 2019. Server Virtualization. [Online]
Available at: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/server-virtualization-a-definition-2071939
[Accessed 27 September 2021].
Sustainability and sustainable development is most commonly described as, ‘development that meets the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).
Why take action now?
There is incontrovertible evidence from the scientific community that climate change is taking place due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. The impact of climate change is visible already – extreme weather, rising sea levels, mass species loss and extinction – and is impacting on our daily lives.
Like many countries around the world, the Welsh Government has declared a climate emergency and has been taking action as a globally responsible Wales for many years.
In an emergency, we have to behave and act differently and swiftly. Therefore, if the Health Board is to meet and exceed the existing requirements, we need to take action urgently to accelerate reduction in our carbon impact, and take other action to embed sustainable development into everything that we do.
What are we doing?
What has been done so far in Wales? In 2015 the Welsh Government enacted the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015) – a world-leading landmark legislation now being replicated in other countries across the world. This was followed by a number of other legal requirements agreed by the Welsh Government, including the Environment (Wales) Act (2016) which requires Welsh Government to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Wales by at least 80% by the year 2050.
In 2019, the Welsh Government published ‘Prosperity for Wales: A Low Carbon Plan for Wales’. The plan is very detailed and sets out the actions required across all sectors in Wales to deliver on the targets set to achieve the goal of the public sector being carbon neutral by 2030.
What Have We Done So Far?
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is already taking action in a number of areas, and benchmarks well on a number of key measures.
External review has confirmed that we are progressing well with embedding the Wellbeing of Future Generations requirements, having adopted the strategic objectives in our ten year strategy, ‘Shaping our Future Wellbeing’, as our wellbeing objectives.
In January 2020, the Health Board committed to responding urgently to the climate emergency, confirming a desire to be an exemplar organisation. The Health Board also agreed the Biodiversity Action Plan at its meeting in January 2020 which commits us to taking action to promote biodiversity on our extensive estate. Some examples of the actions we are already taking are set out below:
• Environment (Wales) Act (2016) requires Welsh Government to reduce emissions of Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Wales by at least 80% for the year 2050.
• Welsh Government’s Prosperity For Wales: A Low Carbon Plan for Wales (2019)
• The health care sector is a significant consumer of energy and as one of the biggest NHS organisations in the UK, this is true of our Health Board. However, we have a proactive energy group and we have already taken significant action to reduce our energy use and we are now the lowest energy usage in Wales.
• Carbon reduction programme in place (Re:fit programme). This includes participation in the EU Carbon Credit Scheme.
• The NHS is typically a high producer of waste but we have taken a significant amount of action to date to reduce the amount of waste we produce and to eliminate waste going into landfill. To date, the Health Board achieves the highest levels of waste reduction of any health board in Wales.
• We are also a big consumer of water, and our ageing estate results in a higher usage of water compared to modern facilities. However, we have taken actions to reduce water usage overall, with the introduction of initiative such as waterless urinals.
• Theatres are a big consumer of energy and potential waste creation. We are leading a ‘Green Theatres’ innovation project looking at how theatres of the future can be designed and run in ways that are carbon neutral and sustainable.
• We are ensuring that we are building sustainability into the design and build of new infrastructure. We have secured extra capital funding for decarbonisation of Maelfa Wellbeing Hub development.
• We know that promoting active travel is good for the environment and good for our health. We have an Active Travel commitment with PSB partners and active travel plans in place.
• We have a significant amount of estate we can use for promoting sustainability and biodiversity. Our Orchard at University Hospital Llandough is one of our biggest initiatives in this area.
Cardiff & Vale University Health Board is an active entity continually improving. As a health board, we aim to exceed our responsibilities by delivering more than healthcare. We are always striving to be better. By continuing to make a difference not just for today, we hope to leave a lasting example for future generations to follow.
If you wish to contact the Sustainability Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org