The UK government has set a target of achieving net-zero by 2050. The NHS has told us it plans to move faster than that and become the first national health service in the world with a net-zero target by 2040. The NHS has set this ambition because it is all too aware of the impact the climate emergency will have on people’s health.
So why does the NHS think people and patients should be involved in their plans?
If not addressed, climate change will disrupt care and affect patients and the public at every stage of their lives. With poor environmental health contributing to major diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, asthma and cancer.
Acting on climate change will lead to better outcomes for patients, with research suggesting that up to one-third of new asthma cases could be avoided as a result of efforts to cut emissions.
The combustion of fossil fuels is the primary contributor to deaths in the UK from air pollution, which disproportionately affects deprived and vulnerable communities.
The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (ICS) – a partnership of NHS and Council health and care commissioners and service providers – has developed their first Green Plan with a goal to reach net-zero by 2035. They know that it is important, as a whole health and care system, to act together. The ICS are committed to involving the people that use services in achieving this ambition.
The ICS’s Green plan lays out commitments and approaches for different health and care services to work together to reach the net-zero goal and manage common resources together, in a more sustainable way. The ICS has set out some goals for the next three-years that cover areas such as their workforce, delivery of care, digital systems, transport and travel, buildings, medicines, supplies and food.
We have reviewed the ICS’s 3-year goals and highlighted the following areas where your feedback and involvement could support the ICS as they work as a team to:
Develop more sustainable models of care by:
- Reducing the average distance people travel to receive care
- Reducing avoidable visits and care services for patients
- Monitoring patients’ journeys from referrals to follow-ups
- Working toward ensuring the average length of stay in hospital meets the patient’s needs
Using digital/remote types of services to:
- Increase the number of patients seen as outpatients remotely – but taking care to create health inequalities
- See what impact ‘virtual wards’ have on reducing emergency admissions and readmissions to hospital and length of stay in hospital
- Reduce travel through digital and remote working and delivery of care
- Hearing patients’ feedback and views on their medicines management
Food and nutrition
- Access to food waste recycling points and disposal
- Reducing household waste
- Reducing plastic packaging
- Sourcing more food for services locally
The ICS would like to hear your views and feedback about how people, patients and communities can be involved in this work, the areas that you think are the most important to be informed about, and have an opportunity to be involved with as well as your ideas for how they could meet their goals.
You can share your views with us and we will make sure the ICS hears what you have to say but if you would like to be more actively involved, perhaps in patient forums or as patient representative please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and we will be in touch.
Image credit: Centre for Ageing Better