The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Despite the huge challenge that lies ahead, leading experts are optimistic that the NHS can be a trailblazer for society’s duty to be more environmentally friendly.

The health service is – in fact – moving faster than most other national organisations in responding and adapting to climate change, according to the doctor tasked with charting the NHS’ map to a greener future.

Nick Watts, who is leading the NHS’s net zero carbon panel, told HSJ’s Sustainability Virtual event he believed the NHS should achieve net zero “well before” the government’s deadline of 2050.

But, and it is a big but, this will require an enormous amount of work. That work must start now, Dr Watts urged.

The list is endless. Reducing car traffic to and from healthcare facilities, switching to renewable energy sources, ensuring supply chains are more sustainable – the tasks that lie ahead are many and varied.

Daily Insight can but hope that Dr Watts’s prediction is correct, or else the NHS could face a far greater challenge than covid-19 in the years to come.

Good but is it enough?

With almost 4 million patients waiting for treatment, effective hospital discharge policy and step-down care is a vital component of restoring capacity in the NHS.

A new £1.4bn “framework agreement” to develop such services in the North and Midlands therefore seems particularly timely.

Frameworks effectively create a list of suppliers that can deliver services when required, saving trusts from running their own lengthy procurement processes.

The scope of this agreement includes care beds, mental health discharge services, walk-in centres and clinical assessment and triage services among a package of services thought needed.

This agreement also expands significantly on current frameworks; it’s estimated value alone is more than double of another launched by NHS Shared Business Services last year.

With almost £2bn in discharge support announced elsewhere by government in 2020, there’s clearly momentum and cash to make improvements in this historically challenging area. 

Whether this will plug the gap left in local authority coffers (that supports continued non-hospital care) is another question.