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NHS England takes scalpel to business mileage emissions

Date: 09 September 2014   |   Author: Tristan Young

NHS England is to implement a new charter in the next 12 months to cut emissions from business mileage.

According to the organisation's recently released annual report, the majority of its greenhouse gas emissions come from the business travel that staff undertake, along with energy used in the buildings NHS England occupies.

NHS England's 6200 staff currently travel more than 5.2 million miles per year by car, almost all of which is grey fleet mileage.

The organisation, which among other tasks oversees the commissioning of primary care health services for the NHS in England,  committed to publishing greenhouse gas emissions information in future annual reports, saying that "business travel makes a significant contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions from NHS England's activities".

NHS England already claims it encourages staff to make every attempt "to identify options to eliminate the need to travel or minimise the number of miles travelled". However, it "will develop a programme to reduce business travel and help make the business and home-to-work travel of staff more sustainable".

Despite already having a business travel and expenses policy that "requires all staff and managers to actively consider alternative means for undertaking their business, including the use of technology, such as video-conferencing, to reduce the requirement for business travel", the organisation's annual report identified "some weaknesses in internal controls". These areas included "travel and expenses processes".

However, the report added: "Management actions have been agreed to address all of these observations." The report also pointed out that some improvements are already in place.

An NHS England spokesman added: "Where business travel remains absolutely necessary, we actively encourage staff to use public transport or to share the use of vehicles with other colleagues. Our commitment to reduce business travel is supported by our programme to enhance agile working - i.e. people being able to work effectively from any NHS England office - so that they can plan and manage their travel commitments efficiently and ensure that productive working time is maximised. By focusing upon greater use of technology and public transport, NHS England will continue to reduce travel costs and be more socially responsible and environmentally conscious."

An NHS England spokesman told BusinessCar: "NHS England does not provide company cars for staff. Although it has inherited 183 vehicles from predecessor organisations, the leases for these vehicles will not be renewed when they expire."