As the cost of storm Ciara starts to be counted, one Teesside based health care provider is reflecting on the impact of climate change on its ageing building infrastructure.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust was impacted by the reported 100 miles per hour storm Ciara at the weekend, costing the organisation a minimum £20k in estimated repairs.
The damage caused by storm Ciara
The University Hospital of North Tees had to implement emergency measures in one ward in their 55-year-old buildings, and roof panels from the University Hospital Hartlepool were blown off during storm Ciara last weekend.
Mike Worden, Managing Director for NTH Solutions, the Trust’s estates and facilities management company, explains more about the situation “The reality we face is that our infrastructure at both main sites in Hartlepool and Stockton is now significantly aged, they were built in the 1960s/70s and are now vulnerable to the ever increasing extremes of UK weather.
Our teams work tirelessly to maintain and provide the highest standard of facilities for our communities; but our creaking infrastructure means we are ever more vulnerable to effects of climate change.
Working with funding we have available at present, the Trust is investing as much as possible to address the estate issues but this investment alone cannot sustain the underlying issues”.
Working towards climate resilience
In 2011, HM Government issued their report Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate’. The publication outlines the risks relating to climate change on ageing buildings, including flood risks and intense rainfall. Mike continues “The buildings and houses we work and live in today are not going to be ‘fit for purpose’ for future climate. The time to act is now”.
The Trust, in partnership with NTH Solutions, has established a climate change working group and has already had many of their ambitions for change realised. This has included the construction of their award winning state-of-the-art energy centre – which won Small Scale Project of the Year category at the Energy Efficiency Awards and also secured second place in the Solar PV Project of the Year category in 2019.
Mike explains ‘The new energy centre at North Tees is an award winning eco-success. Fundamentally, we have reduced our overall energy requirements which is a tangible benefit for all of us. Ultimately, whether fueled by fossil fuels or renewable energies we have to reduce our overall energy consumption and this initiative has allowed us to edge nearer to this ambition.
The centre’s solar PV panels have provided some £25,000 in electricity savings for the Trust in just 18-months. The centre is not only eco-friendly but due to the overall reduction in energy requirements it represents a fundamental efficiency for the Trust – which will eventually pay for the initial investment.
Work still ongoing to reach our goals
The resolve that both NTH Solutions and the Trust have for addressing climate change issues has meant that we have an ever growing work plan of environmentally responsible initiatives from reducing single use plastics and zero landfill waste disposal to progressively replacing our vehicle fleet with electric vehicles and the implementation of electric charging points for both staff and patients”.
However, he concludes, “owing to their age, and despite the dedication of our teams and the resolve of the leadership to address the issues, our buildings are fundamentally vulnerable. This inevitably means there is going to be an increasing impact on the people who use our facilities”.
Julie Gillon, Chief Executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust added ‘we have been exceptionally innovative in the way in which we have used our infrastructure in recent years, including the increase in services at our important site in Hartlepool. Our population has a diverse range of complex health needs. We need to ensure that our buildings reflect our continued ambitions to provide outstanding health care to the population of the Tees Valley”.