Sustainable Primary Care

This foundation course is specifically tailored to health and social care staff working in primary care and offers an overview of the relationship between health, the health sector and the climate and ecological crises. How is the health system both vulnerable to and contributing to climate change and ecological degradation? What would a sustainable health system look like? What might the wider benefits be and how can we achieve this? The course also highlights the leadership role healthcare staff can play in providing healthcare for all within planetary boundaries.   

Please select one date:

  • Workshop: Thursday 7 December [13.00-17.00 GMT] 
    • Self-study period opens: 9 November
  • Workshop: Tuesday 21 May 2024 [9.00-13.00 BST]
    • Self-study period opens: 23 April 2024

If you have booked on a course click here for access.

Pricing structure: £95 - £250 + VAT

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Course description

This short 3-part foundation course is intended as an overview of the field for primary care staff at any level who are new to sustainable healthcare. The training will help you to understand why sustainability matters, then help you to ‘green’ your practice using case studies from primary care, and offering tips and tricks for implementing sustainability improvements. The foundation courses also lay the groundwork for developing your skills further in the technical courses.

Sustainable healthcare delivers high quality care without damaging the environment, is affordable now and in the future and delivers positive social impact.

Primary care is a huge contributor to the overall NHS carbon footprint, with the largest emissions coming from pharmaceuticals. Those working in General Practice are trusted sources of information, community members and run responsible small businesses. We show how sustainable changes often have huge co-benefits for patients and staff.  Primary care staff have the power to reduce their practice's environmental footprint whilst improving care quality.

 This course is endorsed by 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  1. Describe the risks the global environmental crisis presents to human health and healthcare systems.
  2. Describe the contribution of the health sector, particularly primary care, to the global environmental crisis.
  3. Understand the basic principles of carbon literacy.
  4. Understand how sustainability can help to address existing challenges in the healthcare system.
  5. Apply the principles of sustainability to primary care.
  6. Plan a project to improve the sustainability of healthcare in your workplace.

Course Structure

Part I.  Self-study online

Prepare for the workshop at your convenience using our interactive online self-study module, presented in bite-sized chunks. You will need about 4-6 hours to complete the self-study materials which cover all course content including background, theory and case studies, with links to further information depending on your level of interest.   Discussion points throughout the module allow you to reflect on your learning and start to get to know fellow participants and their areas of interest and work.  At the end of the module, you are invited to sketch out a plan for a sustainability project you might want to undertake, in preparation for the workshop discussions.  The self-study module opens 4 weeks before, and remains available to you for 6 months after, the workshop. You can see a table of contents for the self study materials here.

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Part II.  Live workshop online

The 4 hour virtual workshop consolidates your understanding of the course materials. Small group discussions with CSH experts and colleagues from around the world allow further exploration of topics that interest you and tips on how to translate your ideas into action.   The timetable includes pre-session technical assistance and networking, followed by a review of the self-study material with Q&A.  In breakout groups you will then share your ideas for a sustainability intervention in your setting and make plans to address it, using the range of resources, tools and methods developed by CSH and partners.

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Part III.  Mentoring

After completing the self-study materials and online workshop you are invited to attend our online Sustainable Healthcare Cafés. The 1 hour cafes occur regularly throughout the year and  offer ongoing support for you to put your learning in to practice. They are a friendly, informal setting in which to:

  • Get support for sustainability projects from peers and CSH staff
  • Make connections with others bringing sustainability projects into their workplace

You are welcome to continue attending the cafes as many times as you wish. Upcoming dates are available here and will also be emailed out to you with your certificate of completion after the workshop.


This course could not have been written and designed without the support of the Royal College of General Practitioners Climate Emergency Advisory Group (RCGP CEAG) and Greener Practice network. Thanks to Dr Tamsin Ellis for coordinating and designing the course.  A huge thanks to those that have contributed and reviewed the course material: 

Course Authors: Dr Tamsin Ellis (GP; NE London RCGP climate and sustainability lead; Chair Greener Practice London), Dr Georgie Sowman (GP; physical health champion for NE London; Co-founder NHS Ocean), Dr Mike Thompson (GP; medical educator), Dr Aarti Bansal (GP; Founder, Greener Practice), Dr Vasandhara Thoroughgood (GP Colchester; RCGP Essex Climate Emergency & Sustainability Lead), Dr Matthew Sawyer (GP; Director, See Sustainability), Dr Rumina Önaç (GP; RCGP Yorkshire Faculty Sustainability Lead), Dr Terry Kemple (RCGP National Representative for Sustainability, Climate Change and Green Issues; Lead, Green Impact for Health Toolkit; UK Health Alliance for Climate Change), Dr Jen Young (GP trainee; CSH intern 2021), and Costas Visiliou (Clinical pharmacist).

Course Contributors: Dr SanYuMay Tun (GP; medical educator), Dr James Smith (GP; Asst Director of Public Health Studies, University of Cambridge), Karen Creffield (Practice Manager, Frome Medical Practice), Dr Shireen Kassam (Consultant Haematologist; Lifestyle Medicine Physician; Director, Plant-Based Health Professionals UK), Dr Honey Smith (GP; Chair Greener Practice), Dr Joe Barron-Snowdon (Junior doctor, Bath), Alexis Percival (Environment and Sustainability Manager, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust), Dr Richard Hixson (Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care County Durham and Darlington NHS; Co-founder of NHS Ocean; CSH Trustee), Salih Hassan (Lead Acute Admissions and Respiratory Pharmacist, North Middlesex Hospital), Dr Liliana Risi (GP; Provost RCGP North East London Faculty), Toby Capstick (Consultant Pharmacist, Respiratory Medicine, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust), Dr Emma Radcliffe (GP Tower Hamlets), Dr Mark Tyrrell (GP, Senior Partner Crondall New Surgery, Green GP Environmental Champion), and Kiana Mostaghimi (medical student)

Pricing Structure

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Book a course with peace of mind: We realise that healthcare workers may have to change their plans at short notice. If you are unable to attend a workshop, we can offer you a workshop at a later date for no charge. We can also offer a refund as long as you cancel before the course opens for self-study, which is 4 weeks before the workshop. There will be an admin fee of £30 for refunds.


Courses are facilitated by experts drawn from the faculty below:

Nuala Hampson, Lead Facilitator for Education

Nuala Hampson is a pharmacist with a background in education, general practice and, more recently, sustainable healthcare. Nuala has worked as a clinical pharmacist in general practice for over 20 years and postgraduate pharmacy education for 15 years. Nuala is passionate about sustainability and enabling others through positive action. She is the sustainability champion at the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, focusing on encouraging individual and organisational change, and is a member of Pharmacy Declares, a group of climate conscious pharmacy professionals based in the UK. Nuala is currently the Lead Facilitator for Education at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.

Tamsin Ellis

Tamsin is a GP in London who helped design and write the sustainable primary care course. She is a director and co-chair of Greener Practice (the UK’s primary care sustainability network). She has previously worked as a primary care net zero clinical lead for North Central London Integrated Care System (NCL ICS) and has worked with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Health Education England (HEE) and Greener Practice to deliver primary care planetary health training. She works as an associate at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. You can find out more about her work: (link is external) (Twitter Climate_GP).

James Sziemakewicz

James is a GP in North Devon who has worked in healthcare commissioning for several years. He brings extensive experience in partnership working with roles including current Chair of Devon Nature Partnership and Chair of the North Devon GP Collaborative Board. He believes there is an urgency with which we need, as a society, to transition to true sustainability and to deliver this will require system change. His focus is on delivering effective change through a collaborative, cross sector approach.

Matt SawyerDr Matt Sawyer

 Matt has been a GP in the North East of England for about 15 years. He works as a front-line GP two days a week and spends the rest of the week running the consultancy SEE Sustainability to improve planetary and human health. He helps primary care practices understand their carbon emissions footprint and work towards net zero. He has a BSc in Environmental Science and MSc in Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Management.

Dr Hayley Pinto

Hayley was a lead consultant addiction psychiatrist with nearly 30 yrs experience in the NHS and publicly funded services.  She is a medical educator, and currently senior honorary lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and has been involved in climate education, outreach, and activism for several years. Hayley also has a degree in psychology and completed general practice training before pursuing a career in psychiatry. 

Dr Grace Singleton

I attended the CSH ‘Introduction to Sustainable Healthcare’ course and have felt inspired ever since - turning my longstanding climate frustration into something more productive. I graduated from Glasgow University in 2012; after initially training in general medicine I moved to the GP training scheme in 2018. My training has been punctuated by the arrival of 2 small children who have galvanised my desire to act on the climate emergency.