Chief AHP's blog
Date of release: 23 April 2023
Spotlight on our Greener AHPs
By Dr Ros Leslie
During the first ever Greener AHPs Week in England, we have been showcasing the ways our Allied Health Professionals are helping to improve environmental sustainability.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our health, and the planet. And, with UK health and social care contributing around four per cent of UK emissions, we all need to be part of the solution.
It’s more than two years since the NHS became the first health service worldwide to commit to reaching net zero carbon.
This means, for the emissions we control directly (the NHS carbon footprint), we will reach net zero by 2040.
And for the emissions we can influence (our NHS carbon footprint plus, including patient and visitor travel), we will reach net zero by 2045.
This is detailed in Greener NHS » Delivering a net zero NHS (england.nhs.uk).
In October 2021, the Chief Allied Health Professions Office launched the Greener AHP Hub. The hub is a great resource and highlights how AHPs are already contributing to a greener NHS.
Many key areas for change identified are already within our scope of practice and what we do every day can make a significant difference – by improving health and reducing health inequalities, we are also improving the planet.
There is a carbon footprint attached to all healthcare activity, so keeping people healthy through our preventative and rehabilitative interventions reduces their need to access healthcare services.
I’m immensely proud of our AHP services, which are making every effort to reduce the NHS carbon footprint.
Examples of their great work are:
- Safe introduction of telehealth services (virtual appointments)
- Reducing numbers of deliveries to the department
- Working with suppliers to introduce electric vehicles
- Replacing paper-based processes with electronic processes
- Reducing the carbon impact of digital methods of communication, for example only sending necessary emails and keeping the size of attachments and copy lists as small as possible
- Separating waste – glass, cardboard, and plastics
- Using recyclable enteral (delivered into the gut via tube) feeds
- Promoting the return of metal walking aids such as walking sticks, crutches and frames
- Reducing the use of Durapore (medical tape for support)
- Using intravenous anaesthetic instead of inhalation anaesthetic agents to reduce the volume of nitrous oxide used
- Installing MRI scanner with ‘blue seal technology’ which contains virtually no helium
As NHS people, I’m certain reaching net zero matters to us all. And it will take all of us to make this ambition a reality.