Starting the discussion around acting on climate change

30 September 2019

It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the world appears to be dealing with an increasing number of immediate crises. Whatever individual views people hold, many of these are characterised by being local in origin but have a global impact; for example Brexit in the UK or the election of Trump in the US. There is, however, one issue that is seen as global but has been characterised by local solutions, that being climate change. Obviously, there is some debate as to the cause and impact of climate change, and the intention of this blog is not to debate that point. Rather it is to ask whether there is anything LOCs and LOCs members can do in their day to day lives to mitigate climate change.

Environment

 

LOCs could consider a range of initiatives to reduce consumption. Some LOCs have already moved to running meetings in a paperless manner which would seem an obvious first step. Making use of technology for all communications follows on. The ways in which organisations communicate both internally and externally is being revolutionised through social media and all LOCs could consider making use of these to engage with the wider localities as opposed to printed media. The added advantage is that it immediately makes the LOC more accessible to younger professionals who have grown up with such technology, as well as being a tool for direct communication with patients and commissioners in a way in which did not exist a decade ago.

For internal communications between colleagues, obviously email is still effective but increasingly LOCS and LOCSU have made use of apps such as WhatsApp to be able to communicate instantly and effectively. Whilst these do not replace face to face interaction, they do enable instant communication and can help to foster a sense of team when individuals are spread across wider geographies. Moving to meetings, nearly all LOC meetings that I attend are physical meetings, with just about everybody driving to them. Some LOCs have used video conferencing facilities, indeed LOCSU uses online conferencing for several of its Leadership courses. Again, such facilities would not be a substitute for every LOC meeting but utilising online or video conferencing services for every other meeting could save a substantial amount of travel time and certainly reduce vehicle-based emissions.

Finally, commissioners are increasingly looking at environmental credentials when considering who to commission to deliver different services. It is worth bearing in mind that the ability of Primary Care to offer patient services in convenient locations close to home can help to reduce congestion and improve air quality around hospitals.

Just this week NHS organisations in Greater Manchester have declared a ‘climate emergency’ with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership planning to cut the harmful impact of NHS activity on the environment. The Partnership has made a commitment to meet its obligations under the Climate Change Act to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, some of the action plans to deliver this are:

  • cutting carbon emissions from energy use by improving efficiency and using low-carbon sources
  • working with partners to improve local transport around NHS sites, to improve air quality and cut the impact of supply chain transport
  • understanding how to use workplaces and buildings more efficiently
  • reducing waste, managing waste better and reusing or recycling
  • using green space and the natural environment as a method of enabling good health and recovery

It is clear to me that one of the central premises of the new integrated NHS is going to be a clear commitment to environmental considerations.  I am interested to hear LOC ideas around this subject and how as a community of LOCs we can engage.

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