Paul Curotto, specialist waste trainer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, explains why his role was formed and the improvements that the trust has made over the last four years.
My role as specialist waste trainer was created following a visit by the Environment Agency back in 2014. The Agency identified that staff needed more information and support to segregate and manage healthcare waste safely in line with government guidance (Technical Memorandum 07-01) and to comply with both European and Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs legislation on the segregation, transportation and destruction of clinical and domestic waste. Leeds Teaching Hospitals occupies six hospitals over five separate sites and has over 16,000 employees so a new role was required to coordinate the trust’s response to the Agency’s findings.
Working as the specialist waste trainer has provided opportunities to present to all levels of staff, flagging the trust’s commitment to sustainability through training sessions. I am involved in waste projects across the trust and help develop our sustainable management plan. As with any role in the NHS it can be challenging, but the benefit of becoming a cleaner, safer, more sustainable trust for our patients is all the drive that I and colleagues need.
The starting point was a new type of diagnostic audit tool that enabled data to be collected on the ground and identify service development needs. I worked with wards and departments to introduce ways of improving waste segregation in their areas which would work for them and their team. This made segregation safer and more efficient and reduced our disposal costs and our carbon footprint.
The trust also has its own internal sustainability campaign, GRASP (Green, Recycle, being Aware, Sustainable for our Patients). We have an active network of champions who play a really important part in helping to spread the waste recycling and reuse message. Our champions are a really good channel for encouraging good practice across the organisation.
I’ve supported our GRASP campaign on projects such as the single use instrument recycling trials. By involving front line staff and helping them to feel empowered to make small changes, we have made a big difference.
I am very proud to say that 90 per cent of the trust’s waste is now diverted from land fill and recycled or reused in some way. We are hoping to expand on our good work, and with the support of the board, our sustainable development unit, the sustainability and environment manager and our GRASP champions, we are looking to become one of the greenest trusts in the UK.
I have ambitions for an expansion of the specialist waste trainer role. To be able support staff to look at new ways of becoming sustainable, for example the reduction in energy waste and the reuse of existing fixtures and fittings.
If you have any questions about how the specialist waste trainer role works or would like more information please get in touch.