Can our NHS get to net zero?

Izzie Wilson

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Climate change is a key issue within today’s society, and it poses a major threat to our planet. An overlooked issue is that the climate emergency is also a health emergency. Climate change has direct and immediate consequences on our health and if we do not act to make a change, it will have severe consequences on our NHS. 

A Greener NHS

Before the pandemic, the NHS launched the campaign “For A Greener NHS”, with the aim to become Net Zero by 2040. COVID-19 then became the priority and although the pandemic saw hardship and suffering, it accelerated digitisation which offers sustainable solutions, reduced travel, and self-management. The Greener NHS programme aims to reduce the impact on public health and the environment, save money and become the first carbon net zero national health system.

NHS England assembled the NHS Net Zero Expert Panel which included public health and climate experts as well as patient and staff representatives. Their report “Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service” provides a detailed account of how the NHS can commit to nationwide carbon reduction efforts.

Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service

The Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ report sets out two clear targets and provides an overview of how to meet these targets:

• for the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032 (1)

• for the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039 (1)

The question is can our NHS get to net zero? Meeting this commitment will only be achievable if every part of the NHS work together. Staff, patients, and suppliers all need to pledge to dedicate their efforts to the cause. As digital healthcare providers, we also have a role in delivering a net zero NHS, providing health and high-quality care for all, now and for future generations.

References

  1. Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service – delivering-a-net-zero-national-health-service.pdf (england.nhs.uk)