Climate change poses a major threat to our health. Tackling climate change through reducing harmful carbon emissions will improve health and save lives. Here in the UK, air pollution is the single greatest environmental threat to human health, accounting for 1 in 20 deaths. Reducing emissions will mean fewer cases of asthma, cancer and heart disease.
In response to the health threat posed by climate change, the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
We’re already becoming greener – but there’s further to go
We know that NHS staff overwhelmingly support a greener NHS – almost nine in ten support the NHS net zero ambition. And this support is turning into action. Since 2010, the NHS has cut its carbon emissions by 30%. One year on from setting our net zero targets, the NHS is on track to reduce its emissions equivalent to powering 1.1. million homes for a year.
This is thanks to NHS staff pioneering greener ways to reduce emissions across medicines, transport and healthcare buildings, as well as finding lower-carbon ways to care. Crucially, these changes are already improving patient care today, as well as the health and wellbeing of staff, patients and the public.
In this video Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust, shares how her organisation and others are helping to build a greener NHS – improving health now and for future generations.
These actions are adding up, but we have further to go, if we are to tackle climate change, reduce emissions and reduce admissions. Together, with the support of our 1.3 million NHS people, we can – and need to – achieve more.
Join our Healthier Planet, Healthier People staff campaign
That’s why the Greener NHS team launched a staff campaign, Healthier Planet, Healthier People, which coincided with the start of the world’s largest climate action conference, the United Nations COP26, which took place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.
The ‘Healthier planet. Healthier people’ campaign, developed in collaboration with people across the NHS from a diverse range of roles, brings to life the link between our health and that of our environment. We want to help staff discover how the NHS is becoming greener – and how staff action is already helping to improve the delivery of care for patients today, as well as improving health now and for generations to come.
We want to empower all staff – from nurses to physios, doctors to chefs – to join in and create a greener, sustainable health service in a way that is meaningful to them. Because we know that with more than 1.3 million staff, small actions from all of us will add up to make a big difference.
If you are an individual, team, or represent an NHS organisation, and you would like to share the messages of this campaign where you are, please head over to our campaign resource centre to download a communications toolkit. You can also sign-up to our e-bulletin to keep up to date with the latest information on a Greener NHS and the Healthier People, Healthier Planet campaign. On social media? Follow us @GreenerNHS for even more.
“Undertaking medicine was a decision I based on my desire to help people. I am currently an Anaesthetic Registrar working at Charing Cross Hospital in London and absolutely love what I do.
I know that anaesthetic gases are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, so I have worked with colleagues to remove one of the most harmful anaesthetic gases from our theatre suite. Not only are the alternatives to these gases able to provide safe and excellent care for my patients, they are also better for the environment and will save money for the hospital.
I am very excited by the net zero agenda. I feel we all need to make changes to the way we work to resolve this global problem and knowing the organisation I am part of feels the same way makes this easier. I hope that the NHS can be a shining example for other healthcare systems to follow and provide them with ways to reduce their environmental impact.”