How Sustrans can support the NHS

Find out how we're helping NHS Trusts, Boards and integrated care systems (ICSs) to cut their carbon emissions through active travel.

Replacing car journeys with walking, wheeling, and cycling reduces carbon emissions and improves health and wellbeing.

That's why we're supporting the NHS to meet its net zero targets by making it easier for staff and patients to leave the car at home wherever possible.


Our tried and tested methods

Our team of active travel experts use behaviour change theory to ensure both lasting and maximum impact by:

  • raising awareness and encouraging people to try walking, wheeling and cycling
  • enabling and empowering people to walk, wheel and cycle with confidence, by embedding knowledge and skills
  • motivating people to adopt lasting lifestyle habits
  • monitoring progress and impact.

We draw on extensive knowledge and experience from across Sustrans, in infrastructure design, engineering, collaborative design, and research and monitoring.

And by using this expertise, we can help organisations like the NHS drastically reduce their carbon footprint.

NHS statistics

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of NHS carbon emissions come from motor vehicles.

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£17 billion

in NHS costs could be saved over 20 years by switching short motor vehicle trips for active travel.

Our dedicated experts

Our experienced officers can work with you to create a bespoke plan that will help your organisation reach its targets and create happier and healthier lives for colleagues.

We can identify unique barriers to active travel and answer specific needs, by co-designing your programme with local NHS staff.

Our communications experts can help you to develop internal communications around active travel.

We'll provide equipment and resources, and coordinate a broad range of activities that will help to establish and grow an internal network of passionate advocates.

We can work to help you embed active travel in core NHS management and activities.

And we can help you monitor the impact these changes have by designing and delivering a unique monitoring plan.

We also identify project champions and provide training and resources to enable them to continue progressing in the long term.


Our engaging activities

We can boost the confidence, knowledge and skills of your staff through a range of engaging activities, including:

  • pop-up events and workshops to raise awareness of active travel and understand the barriers to it
  • cycle confidence training
  • learn-to-ride sessions
  • bike try-outs
  • bike maintenance
  • Dr Bike mechanic sessions
  • staff cycling and walking clubs
  • guided walks and buddy systems
  • identifying and mapping local walking, wheeling and cycling routes.

Our impact

Case study: NHS Scotland

We've been working with NHS Health Boards in Scotland since 2017, to deliver the Active Travel Workplace Engagement programme.

This is increasing active and sustainable travel amongst NHS staff, and creating a culture in which these choices are normalised.

We support NHS staff directly, over a three-year period, to become more active and to choose sustainable ways to travel.

We embed legacy by supporting policy development and funding applications for facilities, whilst integrating active travel into core management and estates meetings.

Our impact in Scotland

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of NHS staff who attended a Sustrans activity said they were more likely to walk or cycle as a result

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539.5kg in CO2

saved on average, by NHS staff who made journeys by e-bike instead of car, over a 9 month period

Helen Hendry, Obstetrics, Raigmore Hospital

Helen used to drive 2.5 miles to work every day, but in 2019 she bought an e-bike through the Cycle to Work scheme.

After just a month, she sold her car, making an immediate saving of £300 per month.

Helen said: “I really love my commute and my e-bike.

“The exercise and fresh air really helps me clear my head after a day at work, before I go home to my family.

“Since I’ve changed from driving to my e-bike, I’ve lost 3 stone.

“I really enjoy it and I feel great about changing my habits and looking after my health.” 

Case study: Barts Health NHS Trust

We are establishing an active travel culture across six main sites.

Our dedicated officer is facilitating the setup of a long-term project to hand over to a sustainability lead.

Our bespoke package of work includes:

  • Delivering a monitoring plan to measure outcomes. This includes an annual survey on NHS staff travel.
  • Engaging with staff to identify their barriers to active travel and co-designing solutions.
  • Creating and delivering a programme linked to their Green Plan and Active Travel Plan.
  • Providing representation on their Air Quality Steering Group.
  • Linking with local cycle training providers to support staff long-term.
  • Establishing champions and champion training.

Case study: NHS South East London ICS

Working with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in South East London, we're supporting the implementation of the ICS Green Plan, by enabling safe and active travel for staff, patients and visitors.

We're establishing six GP practices as Active Travel Hubs, with pool bikes for use by a cluster of local practices.

Our bespoke package of work includes:

  • Delivering a monitoring plan to measure outcomes. This includes an annual survey on GP staff travel.
  • Engaging with staff to identify their barriers to active travel and co-designing solutions.
  • Designing and delivering a programme for each hub.
  • Establishing champions and champion training in each hub.
  • Working with GP Link Workers and local groups, to facilitate social prescribing.

Midwives making home visits by e-bike, Dr Gray's Hospital

NHS Grampian are part of Sustrans Scotland’s NHS Workplace Engagement Programme, which seeks to increase the active and sustainable travel of NHS staff.

A clinical midwifery manager covering the Moray area was inspired by BBC drama ‘Call the Midwife’ to request an e-cargo bike for her team.

The Sustrans Active Travel Officer supplied one and the team commented:

“It's really good for your wellbeing, and it's been great to have exercise during your working day.”

To discuss how Sustrans can help with active travel in your workplace, please email

Photography credits:

  1. Pharmacist with bike - Brian Morrison/Sustrans
  2. Cycling past mosque - Jon Bewley/Sustrans