NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are committed to treating climate change as a priority. At the November Governing Body Meeting, the level of ambition was established in line with the NHS Net Zero Report which provides a clear plan with credible milestones to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Climate change is also positioned within Cheshire CCG’s strategic objectives to “Commission environmentally and socially sustainably to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the population now and in the future”. This will be a challenging task to decarbonise our organisation and embed climate change into the commissioning cycle. It will require collective action and collaborative partnerships within and beyond the NHS through a shared ambition for carbon neutrality.
The importance of this work cannot be underestimated due to the inexorability of the link between population health and our natural environment, highlighted even more so with the Covid-19 pandemic. Although climate change will undeniably have an impact on everyone, environmental factors such as poor air quality and extreme weather events disproportionately affect disadvantaged populations, exacerbating health inequalities.
Although some small-scale progress has already been made within the CCG (see November 2020 Governing Body Paper), there is a long way to go.
A few examples from the action plan include:
- Reduce our carbon emissions by switching to renewable energy suppliers
- Reduce travel for staff, visitors and patients through the use of agile working
- Ensure sustainability and social value commitments are in all our commissioning and transformation programmes and projects
- Commission healthcare that is fit for the future that takes into account the effects of climate change on patients, the delivery of care and how diseases are spread
- Medicines Management Policies e.g. switching to dry powder inhalers from Hydrofluorocarbons which are powerful greenhouse gases
The CCG plans to expand its current work with both Local Authorities in Cheshire and NHS providers in its response to both Cheshire East and Cheshire West place plans and achieving the challenge of a NHS net zero position by 2040. If we get this right we will not only secure a better future for those that follow us, we will also support economic growth, support healthier lifestyles, help tackle fuel poverty and ensure the responsible use of NHS resources that will help to minimise costs and maximise the funds available for patient care. NHS Cheshire CCG has an opportunity to take a system-lead role in driving sustainability across the local NHS.
The CCG has been successful in gaining funding for accredited carbon literacy training for 100 staff across the wider Cheshire and Merseyside network. This will help to educate staff about climate change, carbon footprints and the implications on health. It will instil confidence to engage in and implement climate change work across the CCG.
As outlined in the NHS Net Zero Report, medicines account for 25% of the NHS carbon footprint. The majority of these emissions (20%) are found within the supply chain in manufacturing and processing of medicines. However for inhalers, which contribute to 3% of total NHS emissions, the emissions occur at the point of use. As a result of this, the CCG has made inhalers one of its priorities for action on climate change. Read more about our work on inhalers, medicines and waste here.
Below is a Cheshire Directory of Sustainable Services