Healthcare Sustainability

We are passionate about supporting individuals and teams to be empowered, creative, innovative and always looking for ways to improve their services; which can lead to better patient outcomes, improved systems and improved professional development. 

We are also passionate about healthcare sustainability.

In 2018, the Royal College of Physicians described in the Future Hospital Journal the two reasons why healthcare sustainability is so important:

SusQI1The practical

To ensure that the health service is able to continue to provide high quality care into the future, given the financial, social and environmental constraints that we are aware of.

The ethical

To protect the health of current and future generations by minimising the health service’s contribution to climate change and its ongoing impact on determinants of health.

Our mission is to foster and support organic activities in pursuit of improved quality, and this includes sustainability.


Sustainability as a domain of quality

Domains of quality

Sustainability was added as a domain of quality by the Royal College of Physicians and they wrote in 2018 that ‘sustainability can be considered a domain of quality in healthcare, extending the responsibility of health services to patients not just of today but of the future.’

When we consider the long term environmental and social impact of our actions, it is clear that sustainability must be considered when planning changes to systems and processes.   However, when looking at solutions to everyday problems, teams may not always consider ‘sustainability’ as a priority.  Or, as is often the case, often the approaches are sustainable we just haven’t considered the environmental and social impacts.

Sustainable clinical practice has 4 main principles, as defined by Frances Mortimer, from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare)

Domains of quality 2


Examples of improving sustainability in healthcare

In this blog, Dr Peter Wilkinson (Consultant Cardiologist and Ambassador for Health and Sustainability for NHS England) describes the Green Ward programme and QI projects that specifically aim to improve sustainability by reducing waste and improving efficiency. This great programme recognises that all staff in the hospital have the potential to contribute to environmental sustainability and to inspire QI projects based on sustainability goals and carbon measures.

However, there are many examples of how QI projects, initially aiming to improve safety, efficiency or the quality of a patient experience – which also deliver benefits for healthcare sustainability.

A project to reduce the incidents of post-surgical infections has obvious benefits in better patient outcomes, but reducing the length of time patients stay in hospital and the medicines, dressings and other consumables used; as well as reducing variation in patient pathways – all have a positive effect on the environment and the social impact for the patient.

Other examples include:

  • Using technology to reduce the need for face-to-face outpatient consultations, or
  • Completing diagnostic tests before an outpatient appointment, reduces the number of visits a patient may need to make and reduces our carbon footprint.
  • Involving patients in designing systems with primary care colleagues to deliver greater patient empowerment and improve prevention through increased awareness in local communities of preventative measures for illness

There are more examples in the resources below.


Get involved

How do you want to get involved?  It is up to you.

If you have an idea for a specific QI project, then you can get in touch here.

If you would just like to get in touch to share your thoughts on the subject or see how you could get involved in efforts throughout the organisation to improve healthcare sustainability, then just drop us a line using the form below:


Resources

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

The Sustainable Physician by Frances Mortimer from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Sustainability in Quality Improvement from the Future Hospital Journal

A Sustainability in Quality Improvement presentation from Frances Mortimer

Leaning the operating theatre for carbon and financial savings by Chantelle Rizan, ENT Research Fellow (BSUH), Sustainable Surgery Fellow (CSH)

Trying to reduce the ecological footprint of an operating theatre is a tough challenge by Harriet Dean-Orange, Senior Theatres Nurse and Practice Educator at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

 

 

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