Research, tools and guidance

The information and links below point to the most frequently used and quoted guidance and tools.  They are grouped by theme for ease of reference.

Procurement Survey

In late 2015 the SDU conducted a survey into sustainable procurement implementation across the NHS. Its aim was to provide a snapshot into the level of awareness and practice of sustainable procurement, together with the expectations that the system has of the SDU. You can read the results of the survey below. 

Summary briefing

Full survey analysis


Procurement Hotspots – The Goods and Services Carbon Hotspots report (2015) focused specifically on the procurement of goods and services in the NHS. The study identifies carbon hotspots in the supply chain comparing the carbon contribution of 18 categories of goods and services against six different NHS organisation types (acute, primary care and community services, mental health, ambulance services, specialist services and commissioning organisations).

Procurement of high GHG pharmaceutical prescription items
– The procurement of pharmaceuticals represents 21% of the total carbon footprint for the NHS in England.  This report focuses on identifying the likely priorities from all the pharmaceutical prescription items procured by NHS in England.  Once these items are identified, targeted measurement through their manufacture and prescription can be considered as a next step.


Tools and guidance

The NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy recognised that procuring in a low carbon way is a major challenge. This is why Procurement professionals, the Department of Health and the Sustainable Development Unit developed some guidance.

Procuring for Carbon Reduction (P4CR)

The P4CR toolkit aims to provide procurement professionals, as well as other staff, with guidance, methodologies and tools to identify and understand the carbon reduction opportunities for their organisation. Procuring for Carbon Reduction will help you reduce carbon emissions when buying goods and services. The following documents and tools are available to download further down the page:

  • P4CR guidance documents
  • SCO2PE Prioritisation Tool V3
  • SCO2PE E-class prioritisation tool V4
  • Self Assessment Tool
  • Self Assessment Tool - Demonstration Version
  • Hierarchy of Interventions slide set
  • Energy Efficiency of Medical Devices
  • Energy Efficiency of Medical Devices Protocol and Tool.
  • Carbon Intervention Plan Template

Ethical Procurement for Health

Ethical Procurement for Health workbook 2.0: The Ethical procurement for health workbook helps procurers in the health and social care sector include consideration of labour standards throughout the procurement and market engagement processes. It aims to build awareness and understanding of labour standards in supply chains among procurers, so that labour standards concerns can be identified early and addressed proactively and constructively. 

The Sustainable Development Assessment Tool is an easy to use online tool that helps organisations assess their commitment to sustainable development.  It indicates how an organisation is faring in social, environmental, and financial terms and gives a measure of how sustainable the organisation is.

Energy efficiency of medical devices tool: An excel-based tool designed to help users assess the energy efficiency of medical devices.

How to buy paper in a low carbon way: An excel-based tool that allows users to compare the carbon cost of buying different types of paper.

The Government’s commitments on sustainable development: Making sustainable development a part of all government policy and operations

  • P4CR Guidance 1- Executive Summary
    P4CR Guidance 1- Executive Summary

    The P4CR documents will help procurement staff reduce carbon emissions when buying goods and services for the NHS. It is a programme with a range of supporting materials, resources and tools.

    Download Document

  • P4CR Guidance 2 - Slide Set
    P4CR Guidance 2 - Slide Set

    This is a PowerPoint slide pack providing an overview of the P4CR programme and the level of carbon reduction required to meet UK targets. This pack will help you communicate the issues and identify what is being put in place to support the NHS in meeting this challenge.

    Download Document

  • P4CR Guidance 3 - Workbook
    P4CR Guidance 3 - Workbook

    This is practical guidance aimed at procurement teams. The guidance is structured around a procurement flexible framework with a maturity matrix (included separately). It will help you consider the carbon impacts of procurement decisions and deliver quantifiable carbon reductions.

    Download Document

  • P4CR Guidance 4 - Flexible Framework
    P4CR Guidance 4 - Flexible Framework

    The Flexible Framework identifies elements of management process and activity against five progressive levels of maturity

    Download Document