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Carbon Literate NHS Green Plans

December 2021 by Nicole Baldwin

Following the development of the Carbon Literacy Toolkit for the Healthcare sector, and a very successful Healthcare Focus Day as part of COP26, we’d like to draw attention to the ways in which Carbon Literacy training using our Healthcare Toolkit, can support the development of Green Plans for NHS Trusts.

The NHS Green Plans are comprehensive manuals that include a set of ‘aims, objectives and delivery plans for carbon reduction’ to support the journey to Net-Zero.

A well-made Green Plan is vital to achieving a Net-Zero NHS. Trusts such a Leeds Teaching Hospital have already developed a plan which utilises Carbon Literacy resources to reduce emissions, air pollution and waste by setting out clear actions in both short and long-term frames. Leading the way for other NHS Trusts, Leeds Teaching Hospital understand the importance of staff engagement and education in becoming a Net-Zero Trust, and have embedded Carbon Literacy within their Green Plan. This paved the way for the Trust to be awarded the Sustainable Hospital Award by the Health Business Awards in December 2021. North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust is another example of an NHS Trust who has been implementing CL within their Green Plan since 2019.

In May 2021, Lancet Planet Health published a study detailing the views of healthcare professionals on climate change and health. The study concluded that barriers faced when lobbying for a decarbonised healthcare system were often due to gaps in knowledge. Our dedicated team have developed a series of Carbon Literacy Toolkits to address this issue. As a result, our customisable, sector-specific toolkits are an incredible tool for creating lower carbon Trusts across the NHS.

Engaging Staff and Addressing Focus Areas

Carbon Literacy training is designed to provide a springboard for carbon reduction alongside meaningful, practical, and positive change. At the end of the training, each learner creates two pledges: to reduce an individual carbon footprint (likely through their individual job role), and for emissions reduction in a group setting. Many cohorts that go through the training particularly benefit from, and enjoy, creating the group action as it provides an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues within the workplace.

The customisable Toolkit for healthcare covers a range of areas where carbon reduction can take place within the NHS – the course is tailored to ensure working groups finish the course with an understanding of what can be done in their specific department or team to reduce emissions in a practical and financially conscious way. Trainers are encouraged to utilise relevant case studies to the individuals who are receiving the training to empower positive low carbon change.

The available customisable Toolkit includes all of the focus points listed as essential in the NHS Green Plan Guide (see the featured image for guidance on this), making the NHS Carbon Literacy Toolkit an invaluable tool to any department or Trust looking to develop an effective Green Plan.

Further resources included in the Toolkit, which can aid Green Plan construction, includes details around how reducing emissions can provide co-benefits for our healthcare systems and how we can encourage climate action on a team-focus basis. Reducing emissions provides multiple co-benefits which directly benefit the NHS, e.g. increased physical activity in the forms of active travel not only directly reduces emissions of vehicles, but could potentially save the NHS £17 billion within 20 years by reducing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, respiratory-related diseases, cerebrovascular disease, and cancers.

Up and Coming Resources for your Trust’s Green Plan

The Healthcare Toolkit available for use right now includes the NHS Generic Staff Course and the Ambulance Service Generic Staff Course. By design, these toolkits are highly adaptable – with 25% of the course available for audience-specific tailoring. This allows the highest levels of engagement with the training because it is made relevant to the audience and locality – in line with the Carbon Literacy Standard.

We recognise the sheer diversity of the Healthcare System, and so understand the importance of providing leadership specific materials to allow for the highest-quality training and localised learning for healthcare. To this end, there are additional courses being developed for Healthcare Leadership following a pilot by Greener NHS – we’ll be aiming to release these in the spring of 2022.

Next Steps

There are plenty of exciting ways in which Carbon Literacy can be integrated into the development of your Green Plan, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to find out how our organisation can help yours! Get in touch at healthcare@carbonliteracy.com to find out more.

Find out further information about the Healthcare Toolkit here.

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