Health Foundation response to the NHS Net Zero Expert Panel consultation on how the NHS can continue to reduce its carbon emissions and become greener.

This submission provides insight into the range of work being undertaken across the NHS to increase sustainability, as well as some of the challenges to consider. The submission includes a summary of a recent report Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor, case studies from improvement work we have funded on virtual consultations, and work we are supporting led by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare to embed sustainability into quality improvement in undergraduate and postgraduate education and training for doctors and other health care professionals.

Key points

  • As 'anchor institutions', NHS organisations have an impact beyond their role as providers of treatment and care. How they use their spending power and resources can maximise their contribution to the social, economic and environmental conditions for the populations they serve.
  • Innovations such as telehealth and virtual consultations are often adopted to improve quality of care and patient experience, but they can also make a positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions – making this a more explicit aim of these initiatives might help to measure and monitor the impact.
  • Building sustainability into existing strategies and programmes, including quality improvement, has the potential to help embed environmental sustainability considerations across a wider range of services and activities, thus ensuring greater spread. More work, such as our work with Centre for Sustainable Healthcare underway to embed and improve sustainability in quality improvement in medical education, is needed to understand the potential benefits but also how this can be done more effectively.

Further reading

Blog

Towards a greener NHS?

22 April 2020

Tom Hardie explores health implications of climate change and explores how NHS can work towards net...

Research report

Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution

August 2019

Our new report explores the ways in which NHS organisations act as anchor institutions, and their...

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