The NHS is committed to cutting more than 100 million straws, cups and plastic cutlery items every year in hospitals in England.

The use of single-use plastics in all catering services will be reduced as part of an effort to reduce waste and protect the environment.

The move will affect staff and patient restaurants, in-room catering and plastics distributed by on-site retailers, including Boots, M & S and WH Smith.

These large retailers have endorsed this promise and have promised to get rid of straws and shakers starting in April 2020 and to phase out cutlery, plates and cups over the next 12 months.

The NHS has bought at least 163 million plastic cups, 16 million plastic cutlery, 15 million straws and two million plastic shakers, according to NHS data.

NHS England said that if the health department could halve its use of plastic for catering, it could mean more than 100 million items a year.

Simon Stevens, Managing Director of NHS England, said: "It is normal for the NHS and our suppliers to join the national campaign to reverse plastic waste.

"This will benefit our environment, the patients and the taxpayers who fund our NHS.

"We are pleased that, as a first step, major retailers operating in hospitals have committed to cutting their plastics, starting with straws and agitators, cutlery, plates and cups."

The NHS has written to hospitals urging them to support the campaign, sign the pledge and limit plastic waste.

Ruth May, Chief Nurse for England, said: "Across the NHS, nurses, midwives and other front-line staff provide exceptional leadership on environmental issues and defend sustainability in their activities.

"The support of local NHS organizations to sign the commitment and reduce the use of plastics catering will require all NHS staff to act in their own regions and encourage its employers to go faster."

NHS England said many parts of the NHS were already tackling disposable plastics.

For example, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service saves about four tons of plastic waste each year after a campaign to remove them from the staff canteen.

The trust replaced plastic milk bottles with glass, plastic cutlery with wood and plastic drink bottles with cans. He also introduced a water filling point.

Meanwhile, the NHS Foundation Trust of Sheffield University Hospitals has removed more than half a million plastic disposable plastic items, including 227,000 covers and 231,180 goblets.

Helen Bird, from the Action Program for Sustainability, Wrap (Action Program for Waste and Resources), said: "It's positive to see the NHS take steps to reverse the trend in plastic waste, remove plastic articles where they have no sense for the environment, as an alternative to non-recyclable materials, such as expanded polystyrene buckets.

"It sends a strong message to the public and NHS providers; our disposable culture will become a thing of the past. "