NHS’s green role called into question

A HEALTH TRUST in Essex has been accused of wasting money after it created a new post for an “energy and sustainability” manager.

Dr Vall Rasaratnam has been appointed to the role at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital in a bid to make them become greener and more sustainable.

Part of his job will be to tell staff to switch off lights, turn down thermostats and wear more clothes in the winter.

But last night campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance questioned why Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust was spending money on the role, which it branded “absurd”.

The trust has declined to say how much it pays its new energy and sustainability manager saying people’s salaries were personal information.

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But a trust spokesman vigorously defended the role, saying: “Dr Rasaratnam is an expert in the field and will actually be saving taxpayers’ money.

“He has already spotted where we can be making savings and will be making the trust more efficient and will actually ‘free-up’ money to be spent delivering patient care.

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“He will be good for the trust’s environmental sustainability and fits in with our green agenda.”

Dr Rasaratnam said he aimed to help the trust transform its energy consumption, waste disposal, water usage, green travel.

And in a bid to make it cleaner and greener he has already agreed to sign the trust to the “10:10 campaign” which will see a pledge before the end of the year to reduce carbon emissions by 10 % in the following 12 months.

Dr Rasaratnam said: “The trust has already started to take steps towards achieving greater sustainability, and my main priority is to work with all staff to increase this activity.

“Part of my job will be to change the culture, so that more people take simple measures, such as switching off unnecessary lighting, turning down thermostats and wearing more clothing in winter and not leaving mobile phone chargers switched on.

“These will make a significant contribution to cutting carbon emissions, and I will also lead on technical initiatives designed to reduce energy use, emissions and waste.”

Staff will be sent an “energy questionnaire” to raise awareness of the issues and changes planned include reviewing the trust’s waste management strategy and providing more recycling facilities so it is easier for staff, patients and visitors to recycle materials such as plastic, glass, paper and cardboard.

The trust, which employs 3,500 staff, currently produces approximately 10,000 tonnes of carbon a year and last year spent just over �2m on utilities and waste management.

But Fiona Mcevoy, Grassroots Manager of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said creating such roles left the public scratching their heads.

She said: “At a time when the NHS are denying drugs to cancer patients, it’s absurd that Colchester Foundation Hospital have hired someone to advise on ‘energy and sustainability’.

“Savings need to be made and new appointments like these mean that our valued frontline services will have to take more of the impact.

“Health bosses need to reassess their priorities and ensure that patients are always put first.”

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