NHS Lanarkshire: Understanding risk and vulnerability to ensure continued delivery of health services

Case Study On-going
Date added: 10/05/2019

Marie Porteous is Head of Sustainability & Environment Manager at NHS Lanarkshire. Site based risk assessments are helping to inform climate ready decision making to ensure that patients and staff across Lanarkshire are safe and well cared for during extreme weather events.

‘After severe winter weather a few years ago disrupted our ability to get staff and supplies safely to all of our sites, we realised we needed to better understand our vulnerability to climate impacts. Along with other Scottish Territorial & Special Boards, we started undertaking site based risk assessments through external risk management consultants. Once we understood the process, we began undertaking them internally. We now have risk assessments for our major sites, and are progressing through our community sites.

These site based risk assessments have allowed us to build a database of climate impacts, recording the frequency of events and, where possible, the costs that NHS Lanarkshire incurs as a result. We can draw on this information to understand our vulnerabilities to future climate change, and inform climate ready decisions and action. Data around the financial impact of climate change allows us to justify investment in action now. At some of our sites that are at high risk of disruption from extreme winter weather, we have invested in adding electric/petrol hybrid four wheel drive vehicles to our fleet. These vehicles will ensure our sites can receive deliveries and have specimens etc. uplifted while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint. We are also investing in our staff, providing emergency planning and response training to help ensure that we are prepared for extreme weather.

We operate diverse sites, and each has its own operational and geographical challenges. Rather than focus on an organisation-wide risk assessment, we are considering the unique operational requirements of each site. This allows us to work with the relevant local authority, as our estate operates across both North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils. We are working with both local authorities to build our understanding of climate impacts across Lanarkshire as whole, and in the meantime we are continuing with our site based risk assessments.

Our site risk assessments have identified climate risks that are now incorporated into our Corporate Risk Register. This register is reported on and reviewed regularly by our Sustainability Advisory Group. This regular reporting means that climate change is now firmly on the agenda for our senior management team, and has allowed us begin mainstreaming climate risk into our organisational practices.

Our database of climate impacts and costs allows us to make informed, climate ready decisions and take action now.’

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