- Posted Monday June 6, 2022
The annual NHS Sustainability Day of Action, which happens this Wednesday (8th June), is all about celebrating sustainable development within our National Health Service and highlighting its importance.
The day is designed to illustrate and promote sustainability across all 223 NHS Trusts. Two live webinars will be run on the day itself, and to sign up simply follow these links: The Sustainability Challenges Faced in the NHS, and Cutting Edge Green Solutions
What does sustainability really mean?
We hear a lot about sustainability, but not everyone understands what it means or what the benefits to themselves and their practice really are. Sustainability means being in a position to continue to run our practices and services in a way that doesn’t impact the environment (locally in your village/town and also the global climate). Sustainable practices make positive contributions to our lives and our world, rather than simply using up resources and producing by-products like waste or CO2.
To be sustainable for the long-term, carbon emissions need to reduce massively. By 2045, the NHS wants to reach net zero. To do this, the more than 60% of emissions that come from the supply chain need to be tackled head on.
Primary care, whilst doing a tremendous amount of good in society, also creates carbon emissions and has other negative impacts on our climate both locally and globally. Primary care (GPs) is about 25% of the NHS, making GPs responsible for about 5.75 million tonnes CO2 annually. Of that, 60% is generated from clinical activities, and 40% by practical and non-clinical sources.
As FPM Group explored in our article Green Practices: How Your Surgery Can be Greener and More Sustainable earlier this year, the CQC have listed environmental sustainability as one of the metrics that they will mark services on. But being more sustainable isn’t just the right thing to do because it satisfies inspection criteria; it’s the moral thing to do for all our communities, and it helps save money too.
The benefits for you
Working to make real, sustainable behaviour a way of life is not only the right moral and ethical thing to do – it’s a CQC requirement. In their new strategy, under “Prioritising people and communities” the CQC list environmental sustainability as one of the metrics that they will mark services on.
As well as having immediate benefits like reducing vehicle journeys to cut air pollution, it saves money too. For example, try to practice ‘prudent prescribing’, avoiding unnecessary prescriptions and avoiding medicines which contain greenhouse gases (like some metered dose inhalers).
Being sustainable might mean helping in CSR activities, too, whether that be building a new garden, renovating a park or even simply putting some window boxes around the practice. Remember that doctors and indeed all practice staff are held up by members of the public as good examples and role models and have a crucial role in influencing behaviour. If you’re seen to be green by your patients, then they might try it for themselves, especially if they see what a pleasant environment it creates at their GP practice.
Further information and resources
- Read about Dr Matt Sawyer (the Green GP) resources and advice to help your practice become more sustainable and achieve net zero, at SEE Sustainability.
- Download your FREE Digital Toolkits here on energy, transport, supply chain and carbon offsetting.
- And don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing on June 8th (and beyond!). Tag your activities on social media using the hashtag #SustainabilityDayofAction