July’s record temperatures have drawn timely attention to the urgent need to tackle the global climate crisis while we still can.
Likewise, the Conservative leadership race saw the candidates quizzed on their personal commitment to the government’s policy of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“While there are huge challenges, the NHS has aspirations to be the world’s first net-zero health service”
However, healthcare practice can often seem at odds with this agenda – for example, due to accepted thinking on infection control and wound care products designed to be used once.
Currently, the NHS produces a massive 5.4% of all UK carbon emissions and it is estimated that 60% of the health service’s carbon emissions relate to the use of equipment and consumables.
In addition, the early part of the coronavirus pandemic saw ministers purchase mountains of inadequate personal protective equipment that the government has said it now plans to incinerate.
While there are huge challenges, the NHS has aspirations to be the world’s first net-zero health service. In November last year, all four UK health services united to commit to net-zero carbon emissions.
This month’s issue of Nursing Times focuses on how the NHS is doing on achieving this and improving on sustainability and related factors.
It is our third edition dedicated to the environment. Jo Norris, clinical engagement and implementation manager at NHS Supply Chain, notes that, while the scale of the challenge may seem daunting, every little helps. She argues that things will appear more manageable if we reach a point when nurses automatically look for the greener option during everyday practice.
Similarly, Emma Nuttall, clinical nurse adviser at NHS Supply Chain, explains her role and how nurses on the ground can effect sustainability, and we talk to deputy chief nursing officer for England Charlotte McArdle about the latest developments at policy level.
Articles also discuss how nurses can potentially reduce the environmental impact of wound management, and on embedding sustainability into nursing and midwifery university education.
We also report on a new sustainability plan for Queen’s Nurses and the challenges of going green in community settings.
Nurses are a powerful force and many of you are already tackling the climate crisis. Together, one step at a time, we can make vital progress and a huge difference.