The NHS in England has recognised that the climate and ecological emergency is a health emergency and as a result, has committed to reach net-zero by 2040.
Primary care is responsible for approximately 23% of NHS England’s emissions footprint — about 5.75 million tonnes per year, amounting to 1% of UK greenhouse gas emissions.
The South East London ICS Green Plan 2022-2025 serves as an overarching system-wide sustainability strategy that encompasses and aligns with the Green Plans of the five NHS Trusts and the ICS’s Primary Care Green Plan.
Within primary care, our aim is to encourage the implementation of carbon-reduction initiatives while continuing to provide high-quality clinical care for patients. Our Primary Care Green Plan provides a focus on ICS Green Plan initiatives specific to primary care.
In primary care in England, clinical carbon accounts for about 60% of emissions, with pharmaceuticals being the biggest ‘hotspot’. For non-clinical carbon (the remaining 40%), ‘hotspots’ include staff and patient travel and energy use.
GP practices around the UK are already taking action by becoming carbon literate, assessing their carbon footprint, greening their estates, and implementing green practice action plans. To support team members on their journey to create a net-zero practice, South East London ICS has produced a Non-Clinical Guide for Decarbonisation that focuses on mainstreaming sustainability into primary care.