Climate change and health
It is increasingly recognised that climate change is and will have a number of implications for health in the UK and globally. Greater seasonal variation in weather patterns in the UK will mean hotter drier summers with more heatwaves and droughts and wetter winters with more flooding and severe storms. This is predicted to have detrimental impacts on mental and physical health.
Source: Department for Energy, Food and Rural Affairs (2012). Report. UK Climate Change Risk Assessment
The NHS committed to reducing its carbon footprint and to improving its sustainability within its Long Term Plan, published in 2019. These improvements aim to protect the environment and improve health both now and in the future. The NHS Sustainable Development outlines the following goals for a Green NHS:
- Reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of providing care
- Reduce air pollution and contribute to a cleaner environment
- Reduce the use of single use plastics where appropriate and feasible
- Ensure that prevention and wellbeing are the focus of all healthcare activities
- Develop sustainable clinical practices in all specialities and services
- Prepare and respond to climate change, including weather events and supporting vulnerable people
There many aspects of a healthy lifestyle which also reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. These include:
- Active travel (walking, cycling etc)
- Sustainable diet (low in meat, high in vegetables)
- Reducing car use
Green Impact for Health
The practice has signed up to the Green Impact for Health Scheme. This is an ongoing project to improve the environmental performance of GP surgeries while saving money and ensuring that our services offers the greatest benefit to society as a whole. Our first step is working towards achieving a Bronze Award.
The Green Impact for Health project has been developed for General Practice by the National Union of Students, GPs, trainees, and medical students. It is supported by University of Bristol, NHS Health Education South West and the Severn Faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The scheme covers many different areas including:
- Social prescribing
- Fuel poverty recognition and support
- Reducing waste and increased recycling
- More environmentally friendly inhaler choices
Look out for new developments in the near future including:
- Patient and staff cycle racks
- Information on inhaler recycling
If you have any ideas for how we can further improve our environmental impact please leave us some feedback!
Inhaler recycling locations: https://pharmacyfinder.completethecycle.eu/index.html
Greener healthcare ideas for patients and doctors: https://www.greenerpractice.co.uk/
Kings Fund information on Climate Change and the NHS: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2019/04/nhs-climate-change
The NHS Sustainable Development Unit: https://www.sduhealth.org.uk/nhs%20long%20term%20plan/nhs-long-term-plan-ltp.aspx
The NHS Sustainability Centre: https://sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/