As the NHS tackles climate change there is also a need to adapt to the immediate consequences it brings. As climate change accelerates globally, in England we are seeing direct and immediate consequences of heat waves and extreme weather on our patients, the public and the NHS.

Adaptation is the process of adjusting our systems and infrastructure to continue to operate effectively while the climate changes. It is critical that the NHS can ensure both continuity of essential services, and a safe environment for patients and staff in even the most challenging times.

The Greener NHS programme is involved in ongoing work taking place across government as part of the UK Government National Adaptation Programme (NAP), a response to the national Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Many of the changes required to adapt to increasingly severe weather have the potential to impact on carbon emissions positively in the long term, such as increased use of remote monitoring in the community, and more efficient cooling systems. However, some changes needed to adapt may impact negatively, such as short-term increase in air conditioning units.

The long-term ambition is most of these measures will offer resilience not only to climate change but to other continuity risks, such as pandemic flu.

Health and care adaptation reports

Under the adaptation reporting powers of the Climate Change Act, the Greener NHS programme has been invited by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to produce the Health and care adaptation reports on behalf of the sector.

The third Health and care adaptation report builds on the previous rounds of reporting and supports the NHS in continuing to deliver a climate-smart, resilient health service. The conclusions of this report will be used to inform human health and built environment components of the UK’s National Adaptation programme.

Read the third Health and care adaptation report (2021)

Read the second Health and care adaptation report (2015)

Read the second Climate change risk assessment