Where you can make a positive impact towards net zero
As an AHP who wants to green your practice, you could consider your impact in different ways:
- Where appropriate, bringing sustainable practices from home to your work setting.
- Implementing changes supported by the Delivering a Net Zero NHS report in your particular professional or clinical setting. Can you change anything about the ward or clinic environment? The equipment you use or the catering?
- Considering your role in influencing professional practice and policy at local, regional, national, and international levels. This could mean demonstrating the long-term benefits of policy change such as the connection between incineration policy or vehicle emissions and long-term benefits to respiratory health through improved air quality.
- Leveraging the combined strength and influence we have as groups of professionals to shape policy, legislation and politics.
- Using the information elsewhere on these web pages and the Delivering a Net Zero NHS report, you could start with a personal assessment of your working life. For example, how often you travel to work.
- Being mindful of the importance of patient needs and clinical outcomes. For example, people with dysphagia may need plastic straws so a blanket ban isn’t realistic, however you might be able to influence change by directing your procurement lead to the single use plastic reduction pledges such as those in the NHS Long Term Plan.
Healthcare’s environmental footprint
Healthcare’s environmental footprint encompasses both its carbon footprint (as shown in the Delivering a Net Zero NHS report) and wider impacts such as plastics, waste, toxins, anaesthetic inhalation agents and gases, and the use of energy and natural resources for equipment and technology.
The activity of large organisations such as the NHS inevitably has consequences for the environment. While the NHS has successfully reduced its carbon footprint by 4% over the past 10 years, significantly more is planned to deliver a net zero NHS.
Greening healthcare services
Moving forward, we must shift to an environmentally sustainable healthcare system, which offers high quality services now, while not compromising the health of future generations. This means:
- Primary prevention and intervening early when ill health occurs
- Reducing waste and protecting and managing resources efficiently
- Provision of more efficient care pathways which minimise elements of care that have low added value and remove unnecessary components
- Encouraging self-care
- Using renewable energy sources.
By thinking about areas of positive impact, it could help to identify:
- The change that needs to be made
- How change will be measured
- Who has the power to make that change happen
- What evidence, data or process will persuade them.