The RCP submitted evidence to the NHS Net Zero call for evidence, which was seeking ideas on how the NHS could reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Our response outlined the following three ideas (more detail on each can be seen in the PDFs at the bottom of this page):
- Redesigning outpatient services to meet demand through alternatives to face-to-face consultation, the NHS can make a significant contribution to tackling air pollution from road traffic. This will also allow the same clinical input to be provided in a more convenient way for patients
- Embedding sustainability in quality improvement to provide a practical way to help minimise the health sector’s contribution to climate change. Early experience suggests this may provide other immediate benefits, including additional motivation for clinicians to engage in quality improvement, directing their efforts towards high value interventions and enabling capture and communication of a wider range of impacts on patients, staff and communities.
- Reducing waste through the power of procurement, which accounts for almost 60% of the NHS’s overall carbon footprint. The majority is generated by the production, transportation and disposal of pharmaceutical and medical devices/instruments. As identified in the RCP’s report Less waste, more health there are a number of ways in which trusts and individual clinicians can take action.
The RCP is directly supporting the NHS Net Zero project, with our registrar Professor Donal O’Donoghue sitting on the expert panel considering which ideas for the NHS reaching net zero are most viable.
Prior to the UN conference on climate change originally scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November 2020, the NHS had planned to publish a pathway setting out its approach to reaching net zero. Due to COVID-19, this conference has now been delayed until November 2021.