Looking after people’s health and the planet’s
GRI 3-3; 302-4; 305-5; 306-2
A healthy environment means healthy people, so in Sanitas we are working to improve the quality of the air we breathe, the wealth of the biodiversity that protects us and to reduce the impact of climate change and how it affects our health. We also support inclusive sports activities so that everyone can get to do exercise.
By the end of the century, the world’s population will be nearly 10 billion people and around 70% of them will live in large urban areas. In addition, the UN states that cities generate 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. This reality forces us to think about cities as part of the solution and to promote projects that help bring about change, so we can make cities more sustainable and people-focused.
Our commitment to people’s health means we must have a healthy planet. That is why we focus on making a positive impact on the society we work in, and we also tailor our activities to keep their footprint to a minimum. Here at Sanitas we know that the only way to take proper care of people's heath is by building to build healthy environments.
Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer at Sanitas and Bupa Europe and Latin America and Director of Fundación Sanitas
The challenges of 2022
A healthy planet and healthy people
Healthy Cities challenges people to walk 6,000 steps a day for two months, which means about 45 minutes a day, or the equivalent to the average of 300 minutes of physical activity per week that is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This initiative seeks to combat inactive lifestyles and improve the health of participants.
The environmental challenge was to leave our cars at home one day a week and use more active and sustainable ways to get around. The aim here is to lessen the negative impact on people’s health of vehicle use, greenhouse gases, air pollution and noise pollution.
Healthy Cities 2022 in figures
participants from the general public and employees of the 200 companies registered in Spain
billion steps, equivalent to 61 journeys around the Earth
A saving of 14.2
tons of CO2, the same amount produced by 162 flights between Madrid and Barcelona
The Healthy Cities legacy
Sanitas has lived up to its commitment and planted 13,000 trees. That is our biggest green legacy since the initiative began. The trees went to five reforestation projects in different cities and ecosystems in Spain and, for the first time, in Senegal as well.
Madrid City Council for the Metropolitan Forest
Sanitas has been giving support to this urban forest since 2020, when it became the first company to donate trees to help create this green belt around Madrid. In 2022, we supported two different initiatives by planting a thousand trees. One was in the Cañaveral area, with the help of volunteers from our employees, and another was at a large planted area near Butarque, in Villaverde.
The trees that have been planted are native species and they are estimated to be able to capture up to 102 tons of CO₂ over the next fifty years. To help the forest thrive, Sanitas will also cover the maintenance work for the next 4 years. This means we will also take care of the irrigation and monitoring services, and we will employ a specialist organisation called Bosques Sostenibles (Sustainable Forests) to do this.
Zaragoza City Council and ECODES
The Los Zaragozanos forest is a cooperation initiative that in the next few years is going to change the face of the Aragonese capital and its environment, and will create new areas of nature and boost the health of its citizens. The plan is to create an urban area of 1,100 hectares with new green spaces to help improve the health of the local population. Healthy Cities has donated 10 native plant species to this initiative, such as the Aleppo pine, the Spanish juniper, evergreen oak and also shrubs (hawthorn, the kermes oak, savin juniper, common juniper, Mediterranean buckthorn, lentisk and ephedra). More than 1,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, with the potential to absorb 160 tons of CO₂ over the next 40 years. They were planted on a piece of land called Vedado de Peñaflo.
According to WWF, forest cover in Spain is just under 26% of the land area, which is no more than 29% of the potential area it could cover. Approximately half of Spain’s tree cover (about 26 million hectares) has been cleared away and 60% (more than 7 million hectares) suffers from severe or very severe water erosion processes caused by human activity.
To address this situation, the Sanitas Healthy Cities initiative is also working to reforest peri-urban woodland areas, with the backing of the WWF. This year, the strategy has enabled the company to reforest 4.5 hectares of damaged ecosystems in the Garraf Park in Barcelona and in the rural Valencian region of Cortes del Pallás. Both areas had been stripped of their tree cover by forest fires. This is our second initiative to regenerate damaged areas in this region.
We have also helped to reforest the Sureste Park in Madrid. This is a riverside area that provides a multitude of habitats for various species.
Major lungs of the planet
In cooperation with the Jane Goodall Institute, we have planted 80 hectares of trees in the Kedougou region of southeastern Senegal, a country that is heavily affected by climate change. The objective is to reforest, restore and protect tree cover and its biodiversity in the natural reserve of the Commune of Dindefelo, as well as to provide fruit trees and timber resources for the local population.
This project will help to reforest, to prevent fires and to create a green belt around the area, in order to protect chimpanzee habitats from human encroachment and to combat climate change and its consequences.
Two key partnerships moving forward
In 2022, we partnered with two organisations of unquestionable international relevance in the field of sustainability.
The Norman Foster Foundation
Sanitas and the Norman Foster Foundation have joined forces to help develop more sustainable and healthier cities. The aim of this agreement is to promote and spread scientific knowledge so we can build cities and buildings that make a positive impact on the health of people and the planet. To help achieve this, the Norman Foster Foundation has also signed up to the Sanitas Healthy Cities-One Health Manifesto. As part of this partnership, both organisations are committed to holding public debates with leading specialists and to promoting joint research on the future of cities and the need for urban regeneration.
The Jane Goodall Institute
The agreement with the Jane Goodall Institute aims to establish a reforestation plan for the Kedougou region, in the southeast of Senegal. The organisation specialises in global community conservation, with particular emphasis on protecting chimpanzee habitats.
The Healthy Cities-One Health Manifesto
At the core of the Healthy Cities initiative, we can find the Healthy Cities-One Health Manifesto. This Manifesto is based on the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for a healthy recovery from COVID-19. It underlines how important it is to look after the health of not just people but also our planet, because they are directly linked, and it commits the companies that are taking part in Healthy Cities to strive to be an engine of change on a range of different fronts. By way of example, it supports promoting the circular economy, developing sustainable, healthy and accessible infrastructures, and taking care of biodiversity and our natural heritage to protect human well-being. It also promotes sustainable and healthy mobility, and gives its support to the cooperation needed to achieve these objectives.
This manifesto is not just supported by the Healthy Cities companies. It is also supported by the partners behind the project. Partnerships are a key element in a project with the scope of Healthy Cities. It should be remembered that the programme was born in a spirit of intense cooperation and today it has the support of the Spanish Heart Foundation, the Spanish Olympic Committee, the Spanish Paralympic Committee, Real Madrid and the Norman Foster Foundation.
Net Zero Commitment
GRI 3-3; 302-4; 305-5
The scientific community has warned that unless we meet the emissions reductions committed to in the Paris Agreement, we will not be able to limit the global rise in temperatures this century to an average of less than two degrees Celsius. The private sector has an enormous responsibility, with respect to greenhouse gas emissions as well as the solutions to eradicate them. This has been a priority for us at Sanitas for a long time now. And we have set ourselves the goal of being a net zero emission company by 2040.
GRI 3-3; 305-1; 305-2; 305-3; 305-5
Since 2009, we have reduced our emissions by over 76%*. Although the surface area of our facilities and our activities are expanding, we strive to ensure that this has the lowest possible impact on the environment, thanks to energy efficiency projects and a commitment to renewable energies.
*Emissions from burning natural gas, LPG and diesel, and from own fleet.
2040 Target: zero emissions
We are one of the first healthcare companies in Spain to pledge to Net Zero in 2040 and we take our pledge very seriously: we follow the roadmap of the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). This public commitment is one more testament to the work we are doing to curb global warming and climate change, because they have consequences for people’s health.
Reducing emissions directly
GRI 302-4; 305-5
Increasing efficiency, streamlining processes and adopting low-carbon alternatives are the three pillars on our road to zero emissions. We invest in renewable energy and in the efficiency of our medical centres, clinics, care homes and offices, as part of this goal.
Reducing emissions indirectly
Our commitment to reach Net Zero by 2040 means that we measure and reduce the impact of Scope 3 CO₂ emissions.
We use technology to help us move faster towards achieving our sustainability goals. Online medical services such as virtual consultations or downloading medical reports, reduce emissions if they mean that patients do not need to visit their medical centre.
Talent against climate change: Eco-Disruptive
In 2022, we celebrated the second edition of EcoDisruptive, the talent programme focused on open innovation. Thanks to this initiative, startups and in-house teams from Sanitas and Bupa are brought together to solve some of the great sustainability challenges faced by the healthcare sector.
Awareness and collaboration: knowledge is strength
Knowledge is one of the basic pillars in the fight against climate change. That is why at Sanitas we work to raise awareness about the relationship between the health of our planet and the health of its people, as advocated by the One Health concept.
GRI 3-3; 306-2
Responsible waste management and measures to promote the circular economy, the optimal use of materials, and recycling or upcycling, are priorities for the company.
GRI 3-3; 303-1; 303-5
In Sanitas, we take steps to manage water efficiently, to monitor its consumption and to launch water saving initiatives.
Other sustainability initiatives
- Customers can use their digital signature to include beneficiaries and products. This encourages sustainability because it saves paper and avoids printing and filing away traditional paper-based application documents.
- All new business contracts are now done 100% online. As they are fully digital, we save paper and filing, and are more sustainable.
Sanitas hospitals now use the Idonia digital platform to digitise diagnostic imaging tests. This means we can say goodbye to CD’s and other physical media, and patients no longer have to travel to the hospital or medical centre for a copy of the results.
Sanitas Dental has set up a forum that suppliers participate in, to identify measures that can help improve environmental sustainability. The main objective is to work with this group of stakeholders so that, together, we can come up with initiatives for a more sustainable future. In 2022, the first meetings took place between suppliers and Sanitas Dental and in 2023, this activity will be consolidated with the creation of a common forum.
We have developed a list of projects that will improve the quality of life of the elderly care clients who come to our centre, while protecting the health of our planet. Our Sustainable Customer Journey initiative was launched in 2022, so that care home residents, day centre users, families and employees can contribute to the different initiatives being launched each month. This initiative has meant we have saved 108.7 T of CO₂.
This programme gives our staff access to different activities, tips and services that are designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Because people’s health begins with small daily routines. All our employees are given access to this initiative. In 2023 it was rebranded as Sanitas Viva and is based on three pillars that are also fundamental for our customers.
A healthy body
Physical activity, good habits and proper nutrition are some of the goals that are promoted by the activities and contents designed for our employees.
Free online training, discounts in gym membership, online personal trainers, free physiotherapy treatment or unlimited direct access to our Health Promotion Services (SPS) are some of the benefits available to our staff:
- 6,000 people take part
- More than 60 sessions and initiatives
- 289 personalised health plans for our employees
- More than 400 people use the gyms at our centres in Madrid
At the beginning of 2023, the programme was rebranded as VIVA. It is still accessible for all of our staff members and has increased the range of services it offers to employees.
A healthy mind
The emotional well-being of our people in Sanitas is one of our top goals.
A toll-free number for psychology issues, weekly mindfulness sessions or access to our Personal Energy programme, which is there to help our staff to strike a balance between personal and work life, are some of the services we offer.
A healthy environment and community
This is essential if we want to develop robust and healthy routines. Here at Sanitas we try to create environments that encourage good habits, everywhere from the workstation to our staff canteens. And since we know that these routines are not just limited to working hours, we design programmes to offer support to our staff in their family and personal lives.
We put the patient at the forefront of our services
The health services we provide are tailored to the profile of each patient and their individual health needs. Our hospitals are safer, more efficient and focused on the needs and desires of our customers. Sanitas La Moraleja and La Zarzuela have been awarded quality approval by the Joint Commission.
- We have encouraged hospitalisation at home
- We stay with the patient right up to full recovery with the post-surgery virtual consultation service
- We continue to operate the Open Door ICU initiative with its extensive and flexible visiting hours, so family members can combine patient care with their work and family duties
- Use of the app is growing, so patients can check online to see what the waiting times are in the Emergency Service in the different specialties
- We implemented the SueñON project, to deal with the problem of patients’ sleep being disturbed when they are in hospital
- We are one of the first companies nationwide with an institutional pain management strategy in our centres
Our spaces are designed for people
- Our environments use natural lighting and we monitor the levels of noise and light pollution
- Routes inside the hospitals are signposted to make it easier to get around
- We believe in universal accessibility. Our main buildings, as well as over 65% of the infrastructure at Sanitas Hospitals, have been ISO 170001 certified for accessibility
- We are creating safer and more efficient spaces in our care homes with two unique projects: thermal comfort and air quality, and the no-restraints care home
Supporting our professionals
- We are working to achieve a cultural shift over to a more people-centred model
- We are putting early stress detection programmes in place
- We offer ongoing training programmes
- We encourage value-based leadership models
- We take care of your well-being, health and your commitment
Services tailored for every patient
Every type of patient has specific health requirements. Our goal is to put people at the centre of what we do. That is why we tailor our services individually for each client.
The mother’s wishes are at the heart of this minimal intervention childbirth protocol. In addition, our university hospitals Sanitas La Zarzuela and Sanitas La Moraleja have been accredited by the Iniciativa para la Humanización de la Asistencia al Nacimiento y la Lactancia – IHAN (Initiative for Humanising Birth and Breastfeeding Care).
Where the heroes live
We use stories to teach children how to minimise the emotional impact and stress of having surgery. The University Hospital Sanitas La Moraleja is accredited as a paediatric pain-free centre and the Hospital Sanitas CIMA of Barcelona has a team of specialists in paediatric surgery of high complexity and in all subspecialities for children.
ASD pictorial choice boards
These boards were developed mainly to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Thermal comfort and air quality
At Sanitas Mayores, we have taken part in a study to determine what factors influence thermal comfort and air quality so we can design and manage spaces with a dual approach: improving well-being and saving energy.
No-restraints care homes
In Sanitas Mayores we believe in getting rid of physical restraints. The conclusions of the study “Reducing physical restraints in the care home” that we ran in 2021 with the Maria Wolff Foundation, show that this not only minimises the risk of falls, but also enhances our residents medical and psychological well-being.