Empowering AHPs for a Greener Future
In April, the Chief AHP Officers team ran the first ever Greener AHP week, to galvanise the interest and enthusiasm of the Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) workforce to deliver environmentally sustainable healthcare as part of AHP roles. Environmental sustainability is one of the five areas of focus in AHPs Deliver, the national AHP strategy for England; it is also a priority within each of the four UK nations.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our health, and our planet. Contributing around 4% of UK emissions, the NHS and other UK health and care organisations need to be part of the climate change solution. In 2020, the NHS launched its campaign ‘For a Greener NHS’ and commissioned an expert panel to set out a practical, evidence-based, and quantified path to a ‘net zero NHS’. Underpinning this work, is an understanding that climate change undermines the core foundations of good health, contributing to cardiovascular disease, asthma, and cancer. Furthermore, action to tackle climate change also reduces the burden of disease from air pollution, obesity, and poor diet whilst directly addressing health inequalities experienced across the country. This report set out a strategy and two clear targets to respond to this challenge:
Since the NHS became the world’s first national health system to commit to become carbon net zero, AHPs have developed a programme to highlight and amplify the role of AHPs. In 2020, a survey was conducted of over 2,000 allied health professionals to gauge their interest in the environmental sustainability agenda; the overwhelming message was that AHPs are passionate about greener issues in their personal lives and want to ensure that they bring this to their working environment too.
In response, the Greener AHP Hub was launched in 2021. The hub provides clear actionable steps which AHPs can take to improve their own environmental sustainability. It includes ‘what good looks like’ for individual AHPs and their teams, as well as wider examples demonstrating how AHPs can lead this work in their organisations. What AHPs do every day makes a difference.
The idea for a dedicated week to showcase and celebrate the remarkable efforts of AHPs in environmental sustainability emerged during the 2022 CAHPO conference. Hannah Pickard, Jessie Frost, and Sarah Garland, AHP clinical fellows with the Chief Sustainability Officer, played instrumental roles in creating an engaging and interactive Greener AHP week. The week was filled with impactful social media content, enlightening webinars, the launch of a co-designed AHP animation, events hosted by sustainable healthcare networks, inspiring blogs, and numerous locally-led activities within NHS organisations, AHP teams, and professional bodies. We deeply appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication shown by everyone involved in advancing this important agenda.
The results from the week were astounding: over 400,000 impressions of the #GreenerAHP hashtag on social media, a successful launch webinar with 243 attendees and many more watching on demand, 2,500 page views of the Greener AHP Hub, with an average page duration of over 5 minutes and 60% being from new users. Furthermore, there was a notable 300% increase in AHP sign-ups for the "Building a Net Zero NHS" e-learning programme and 63 new sign-ups for the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare networks.
Looking ahead, we hope that next year we can repeat the Greener AHP week and see it grow from strength to strength. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore the wealth of resources available on the Greener AHP Hub to expand your knowledge. Some key areas of consideration include:
- Public Health and Prevention
- Digital transformation and the application of technology
- Reducing the environmental impact of equipment, medicines and resources
- Food and nutrition
- Walking aid reuse
If you have good examples to share we would love the hear about them using this case study template that can be completed and uploaded directly to the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Networks. Together, let us drive the transformation towards a greener future, where AHPs play a central role in championing sustainability within healthcare.
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Linda Hindle OBE
Linda Hindle is the Deputy Chief Allied Health Professional Officer; she works for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities in the Department of Health and Social Care; leading work to champion the contribution of the 14 Allied Health Professions, Fire, Ambulance and Police services to improving the public’s health and wellbeing across England.
Linda is committed to social justice and environmental sustainability; she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s platinum jubilee birthday honours for services to public health. She is a co-founder of AHPs4PH, a social media community of practice for AHPs with an interest in public health and co-founder of the police and public health collaborative.
Linda has previously worked as a consultant dietitian as well as in commissioning and service management. She has experience of working in and with Local Authority, NHS, private sector, research and education organisations.
Follow on twitter @hindlelinda