Health and Social Care Recovery from Covid 19. A six step guide by organisations committed to tackling the climate crisis and promoting health

Thursday, 24 September, 2020

Today, the BMJ has published a joint article (by representatives from The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Healthcare Without Harm Europe, The Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, and the grassroots group Health Declares Climate & Ecological Emergency) outlining six recommendations for the recovery of our health and social care system, from the covid-19 pandemic. 

It is understood that this article has also been cited in the upcoming GreenerNHS plan, designed to achieve net-zero emissions in the health service as soon as possible.

The world is still in a pandemic state, however, the article stresses that “Early recovery planning is critical”. And while there are many changes needed to promote health care, net-zero carbon emissions, and improve resilience to future crises, the organisations have outlined six steps that would result in the most impactful results. These include:

  1. Promote health not just health care
  2. Re-balance the whole health and social care system
  3. Change the health system from one that does things to patients to one that supports people to stay healthy and manage their conditions
  4. Give more freedom to local parts of the NHS to innovate and learn sustainably
  5. Change the rules of the system to cut carbon emissions
  6. Pay more attention to the wellbeing of staff

“The pandemic has exposed the difference between health and healthcare”.

And while the NHS is a large entity (which is also responsible for “6% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions”) the authors note that it will take the combined efforts of governments and local authorities to tackle the key issues moving forward. 

The article discusses the need for more emphasis on environmental and social factors of health, such as “economic security, equality, meaningful and secure employment, good housing, education, unpolluted air and water, affordable and nutritious food, access to green spaces, and community strength.” 

It also highlights the need for organisational transparency in terms of carbon emissions. Stating that organisations should be required “to measure and reduce their carbon footprint” going forward. 

This pandemic has put a huge strain on the healthcare workforce. And while the authors note the public’s acknowledgement and appreciation they also address workers wellbeing, both physically and mentally. With notions of “improving employment conditions and pay” and incentivising “active travel and healthier diets”. 

Covid-19 has affected so many lives. This article encourages the implementation of a clear, six-step guide going forward, noting that “we must learn from this [pandemic] to build a fairer, more resilient system that contributes to a fairer, healthier and greener society”

Read the full article on The BMJ.