SHSC's first sustainable travel plan in motion

SHSC's sustainability lead, Sarah Ellison, is delighted to announce that SHSC has developed and had externally accredited our first sustainable travel plan.

This is a key milestone on our journey to being a net zero NHS service provider and making SHSC a great place to work.

What is a travel plan?

A travel plan is an organisation-wide strategy for travel behaviour change that can be applied by employers, comprising of a package of measures that aims to reduce car use to and from any given sites.

This may target a place that people travel to (e.g. a workplace, school, place of worship, transport interchange, stadium), or a place that people travel from (e.g. residential housing development). The travel plan should be based upon research and consultation with the users of the site and should also include:

  • Site audits
  • Travel surveys
  • Summaries of travel and transport challenges that need to be addressed by the organisation
  • Aims and objectives
  • Targets
  • An action plan
  • Ongoing monitoring an performance management

At SHSC, a travel plan for each of our sites has been developed and approved via Modeshift Stars, supported by the Department for Transport. Our first travel plan provides a foundation to develop and enhance how we target measures to support a shift to more sustainable modes of travel within areas such as active travel, promotion and engagement activities to encourage behaviour change, developing policies and procedures to define our commitments and travel offer as an employer and smarter working practices to remove or avoid journeys.

The intention now is to complete required initiatives over the next year to progress as many as our sites as possible to meet the next accreditation levels available within Modeshift. This will see us moving up the ratings from an approved accredited travel plan, to good, very good, excellent and outstanding travel plan.

The travel plan will also support future estates strategy and capital prioritisation, an improvement in staff health and wellbeing, as well as the associated reduction in carbon emissions and air pollution.

Why do we need a travel plan?

SHSC recognises the twin challenges of climate change and air pollution, threatening the health and resilience of the communities we serve and how we continue to deliver our services in the near and long term. We recognise that SHSC is a contributor to climate change and air pollution in Sheffield, resulting in negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.

Business travel and fleet emissions make up nearly 4% of the SHSC carbon footprint (based on the 2020/2021 baseline footprint). As set out in our green plan, our three year sustainability strategy, we have set two clear ambitions for the emissions we control directly (our carbon footprint) to be net zero by 2030 and for the emissions we can influence to be net zero by 2045.

Understanding how staff commute to work is key to enabling an increase in the use of sustainable travel modes, which is an important enabler for reducing air pollution, which contributes to 26,000-38,000 deaths a year in England. The Health and Care Act 2022 requires commissioners and providers of NHS services specifically to address the UK net zero emissions target and the environmental targets within the Environment Act 2021, which travel contributes to.

In the NHS Net Zero Travel and Transport Strategy several key steps have been marked as milestones in our transition to a net zero mental health service:

NHS travel plan

People who walk, cycle or take public transport to work are more likely to be fitter, reducing sickness and improving wellbeing. In addition, people who walk or cycle to work are generally more satisfied with their commute than those who travel by car. Evidence shows that the commute experience “spills over” into how people perform and feel at work and home.

Sarah Bawden, deputy director of people, said: "I am so excited that we are taking forward our first travel plan. It’s a landmark on our journey to being a greener organisation and I look forward to working with colleagues to create opportunities for more active travel options, a great opportunity to support healthier lifestyles and keep us all moving!"

What are our aims and objectives?

SHSC is committed to setting out actions within this travel plan which will directly reduce our emissions and air pollution, reduce health inequities and maximise opportunities to improve the mental, physical and social wellbeing of the people in our communities.

To meet the travel plan aim, support targets within the green plan and identify enabling actions to reduce our carbon footprint and air pollution, we will apply the following objectives:

  • Continue transitioning our fleet to zero emission
  • Reduce unnecessary journeys by transitioning to low carbon sustainable models of care and working with our supply chains to support emissions reduction
  • Directly enable more staff to switch to more active modes of transport by investing in the active travel infrastructure of our estate
  • Indirectly enable improved access to healthier, active forms of travel such as walking, wheeling, running and cycling via enhanced engagement and support initiatives
  • Continue to collaborate with local city partners to share learning and experiences and seek to work in partnership to the design and implementation of local active travel infrastructure improvement projects.