THE NHS has been told to clean up its act after an investigation revealed two-thirds of hospital trusts are failing to hit anti-pollution targets.

Trusts serving South Tees, York and Newcastle are among those not on track to meet aims set out by the Government in 2014.

The health service must reduce its carbon footprint by 34 per cent before 2020 to meet targets announced after research found the NHS was responsible for 40 per cent of public sector emissions in England.

Analysis by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit found that just 39 per cent of trusts in England were expected to meet the targets set out in a strategy launched by Public Health England and NHS England following the 2012 findings.

Trusts were urged to implement sustainable plans and introduce healthy transport initiatives in a bid to cut emissions but figures show that many - including some in the North-East - have failed to take appropriate action, with 32 per cent currently having no such plans in place.

Data published by NHS Digital shows that South Tees, York Teaching Hospital and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Trusts have board approved plans but are not on track to meet their targets.

The Northern Echo:

In a joint statement, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Sue Hayman and Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, described the figures as shocking.

They added: “We know the NHS is responsible for around five per cent of all UK environment emissions.

"It’s time the NHS took its responsibilities to climate change seriously, and a Labour government would make sure it does.”

However, a spokesman for the health service said carbon emissions had been reduced significantly between 2007 and 2017, while environmental campaigners suggested the Government should do more to support the NHS in its battle to solve the problem.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “We have to keep in mind the intense financial pressure the NHS is suffering, with health funding far behind that of comparable countries.

“The NHS needs to be properly funded to meet the agreed policies to tackle the climate crisis, which means having the appropriate healthy transport, sustainable development and carbon reduction plans in place.”

A spokesman for the NHS said it had reduced carbon emissions by 18.5 per cent between 2007 and 2017, adding: “We will see further reductions thanks to the NHS Long Term Plan which introduces low emission vehicles, reduces the use of single use plastics and anaesthetic gases like nitrous oxide.”

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is listed among the trusts without a plan in place.

However, a spokeswoman for the trust told The Northern Echo that the trust did have a strategy and as a result, had achieved “the legally binding requirement to reduce carbon emissions” two years ahead of the 2020 target.

Kevin Oxley Director of Estates, ICT and Health Care Records at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is committed to reducing its carbon footprint to the levels set by the UK Government. 
“We are in the process of delivering a new Combined Heat and Power plant at The James Cook University Hospital which will be in service by 2022.  

"The aim of this work is to drastically reduce the hospitals carbon emissions and bring our carbon emissions back into line to meet Government targets.  

"In addition to this we are also investigating the possibility of applying this innovation to a district heating scheme, thereby providing cleaner energy to the Teesside area.”