A sustainable health and care system provides quality services without damaging the environment. The RCSLT wants to support speech and language therapists to contribute to greener healthcare – both in their own practice and by being leaders and advocates across the profession.
Why sustainability is important
- A healthy society depends on a healthy environment – climate change has immediate consequences on our health, disproportionately affecting our most deprived and vulnerable communities.
- If the global healthcare sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest contributor to climate change (Healthcare climate footprint report).
- The NHS generates around 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) each year in England, and around 5% of net UK greenhouse gas emissions.
- Environmental and financial sustainability are linked – reducing waste can also save your service money.
A net zero NHS
The NHS is committed to becoming the world’s first net zero health service, with a goal of reaching this target by 2040. As the biggest employer in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, the NHS has a major part to play in the UK’s overarching climate goals.
The pathway to net zero incorporates changes across the service, including reducing emissions within hospitals, transitioning to zero or low-emission vehicles, and using the immense purchasing power of the NHS to influence change throughout the supply chain.
- Read the full NHS report: Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service
- Learn about the Greener NHS programme
Allied health professionals (AHPs) are the third largest clinical workforce in the NHS, so they play an important role in reducing the impact of the NHS on the environment.
The Greener AHP hub, which the RCSLT helped to develop, aims to make it easier for AHPs to educate themselves on environmental sustainability and contribute to a more sustainable NHS.
Key areas for change, such as equipment, models of care and food, are all within AHPS’ scope of practice – meaning everyone has an opportunity to influence change.
What’s more, many AHPs focus on interventions which reduce people’s need to access healthcare services, which in turn helps to reduce carbon emissions. You may already be having a more positive impact than you realise.
Ready to make a change? Find out how you can make a positive impact towards net zero. Many of these tips apply whether you work for the NHS or not.
Reducing our impact
For the first time, our commitment to environmental sustainability has been included in our Strategic Vision. Read more about our vision for 2022-2027.
As well as supporting our members to reduce their environmental impact in their practice, we’re working to minimise the RCSLT’s footprint. Read about the changes we’ve made to Bulletin, our magazine for members.
- Greener Allied Health Professional hub
- Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service
- Centre for Sustainable Healthcare
- World Health Organization: Climate change and health
- IJLCD: What are the implications of climate change for speech and language therapists?
- ASHA perspectives: Communication and swallowing disorders: the effects of climate change (requires ASHA login for full text) and accompanying video by Sue Sherratt
- Follow @SLTSusnet on Twitter for updates on sustainable practice
- Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare e-learning programme (requires an elfh account)