East Anglia: Budget fears as rising cost of gas and electric hits hospitals

Cost of pertol continues to rise

Cost of pertol continues to rise - Credit: PA

THE region’s hospitals face a huge challenge to reduce their energy costs in the face of rising prices, experts have warned.

A new report from Power Efficiency, called NHS Hospitals and the Energy Hike, warns that if rising costs are not addressed then it will have a severe impact on hospital budgets and be a drain on frontline resources and patient care.

Hospitals in the east of England may have to find millions more pounds in order to pay for rising gas and electricity bills between now and the end of 2021, the report warns.

Bobby Collinson, managing director at Power Efficiency, said: “If unaddressed, the rise in energy costs is obviously going to have a severe impact on hospital budgets.

“This will, in turn, present a drain on resources for the provision of frontline services and patient care over the next decade.

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“We recognise that hospital trusts do not necessarily have the budget to commit to energy-saving programmes in the current climate, so imaginative solutions will need to be looked at to avoid this trap.” The region’s hospitals currently pay out more than £46million annually on energy bills but Power Efficiency’s report suggests that this will rise to more than £83m by 2021.

West Suffolk, Colchester General and Ipswich Hospitals all said energy efficiency was high on their agenda.

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A spokesman for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “In 2010 we installed a combined heat and power unit (CHP) on the hospital site, which generates around two thirds of our electricity and half of our heat.

“As well as helping us save around £150,000 on our utility costs each year, the unit has reduced the amount of CO2 produced by the trust by 1,800 tonnes.”

Colchester General Hospital actually reduced its carbon emissions last year and used less gas with only a small rise in its electricity consumption.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Hospital is switching on a new environmentally-friendly generator.

The hospital has teamed up with specialist firm Raygen to install a Bio Fuel electricity generator in the first partnership of its kind in the UK.

The generator will save the hospital at least 4,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Not only will the generator produce the electricity needed to run the 47-acre hospital site, but surplus will be sold by Raygen to the National Grid. The hospital will pay a competitive fixed rate for the electricity it uses.

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