Green impact for Healthcare Toolkit (GIFH)

Are you in general practice but not sure where to start with making sustainable changes? The Green Impact for Healthcare Toolkit (GIFH) might just be the thing for you.

This year the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the National Union of Students (NUS) SOS-UK Charity have teamed up once again for a new and improved GIFH Toolkit 2020/21; to help the 750 GP practices who have already signed up and the new practices getting involved become greener and save money. Afterall, audits with the toolkit have found that practices who completed only two simple actions saved around £1000/year. 

green impact for healthThe toolkit is a DIY guide to help practices become more environmentally sustainable by making small step-by-step changes. It’s easy to register* and free to check out (although it isn’t funded so a donation is appreciated with a minimum of £25 being recommended). You can click on the tabs and take your pick. There are  various criteria or actions to complete in order to gain awards in the form of bronze, silver, gold and carbon (for being carbon neutral). You can then proudly display your achievements in your practice and inspire others to look at their carbon footprint or aim for gold!

A good place to start is to ask your practice what they are doing already, you might be well on your way to bronze without even knowing it! 

The new model means practices can now focus on clinical or subject areas rather than just aim for awards. And, this year the GIFH toolkit has added a new ‘carbon’ award for practices to aim towards being carbon neutral. This is highly topical given the Greener NHS has announced this year a report for the NHS to reach net zero by 2040. 

Brilliant new criteria have been added to this year's kit including active travel, green estates and biodiversity. There’s tips for making small changes like switching to fairtrade tea to big changes like getting practice staff climate literate and taking part in personalised active travel. Helping to grow a shared sense of community action amongst staff and patients.

Dr Terry Kemple the lead for GIFH said, “we need to give people simple actions, relevant to their daily life like ‘The Green Impact prescription’ where its good for you and good for the planet” adding “we don’t want a few perfect people doing every impossible thing, we need most of us imperfect people doing every possible thing we can.”

Frome, last year’s winner of a gold award, said at the launch of the toolkit that we need to embed sustainability and create a culture of sustainability within practices. In committing to sustainability they found they were saving money, aiding retention of staff and feeling a sense of community doing their bit towards fighting the climate crisis. You will soon be able to catch up on what Karen Creffield (the practice manager) said and more about the toolkit on the webinar section of the greener practice website (or, just have a look around as the website - it’s a must for resources and tips). 

Dr Rumina Önaç, a GP and lead for the GIFH projectDr Rumina Önaç, a GP and lead for the GIFH project in the Old School Medical Practice said, “doing the GIFH has sparked other ideas for green change; a very successful local ‘crutches amnesty’, we’re now a registered water Refill Station for patients and passers-by, we’ve stopped buying plastic-based period products (used after coil insertion), and we’ve added ‘sustainable healthcare’ as a regular agenda item to weekly team meetings.”

Dr Önaç has found “the GIFH is a fantastic gift-wrapped way to help structure greener changes and foster a practice-wide excitement for doing your bit to help the climate crisis.”

We would love to hear success stories or ideas for the toolkit. You can use the primary care networks to share your ideas and spread the word in GP to sign up! 

*To register you can use code 134 or log in with test credentials using username with the password testtoolkit

By Tamsin Ellis, and with thanks to Rumina Önaç, Terry Kemple and Georgie Sowman