AHPs can contribute through altering their own practice and by influencing and leading others. The health and care system in England is responsible for an estimated 4-5% of the country’s carbon footprint. Delivering a Net Zero NHS sets out how we will be the first health system in the world to reduce our carbon footprint to net zero, by 2040 for the carbon we directly control and 2045 for the carbon we can influence. This will ensure that our health system contributes towards the national ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Many key areas for change identified within the report are within AHPs’ scope of practice and influence, such as equipment, models of care and food. Moreover, many AHPs already focus on interventions which keep people healthy and reduce their need to access healthcare services, which in turn helps to reduce carbon emissions through reduced healthcare activity. Examples include self-management, admissions avoidance, falls prevention, faster recovery, and earlier discharge.
The climate emergency is a health emergency. Every AHP in England has a responsibility toward the ambition of the NHS to becoming carbon-neutral. Despite the huge challenge posed to health and care services by COVID-19, there have been opportunities for Greener AHP services, such as the rapid growth of digitally enabled remote clinics which have reduced carbon emissions from travel. Going forward we must take learnings from the pandemic and continue to think innovatively to reduce the carbon footprint of our services.