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Leading Sustainability in Health and Social Care

Caring for the planet and our patients

Cost Duration Start Date Qualification Credits Delivery
From £1,100 + VAT 4 months May 2024 Levels 6 and 7 20 Fully online, some live lessons

Current context

Climate change, along with the collapse of biodiversity, are the biggest global health threats of today. Health and care services contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (GHE), a major driver for climate change globally.

Nurses have a key role in reducing GHE. This programme will support participants to focus their practice as we adapt to climate impacts and communicate the need for an accelerated national and global response.

This blended learning programme is open to anyone regardless of RCN membership status.

The programme has been developed to support anyone in the role of clinical leader in every care setting. It may be of specific interest to:

  • specialist procurement nurses
  • care home/ward/dept managers
  • nurses supporting sustainability in their role
  • sustainability link champions/nurses
  • GP practice nurses, community, and public health nurses
  • nurses working in acute NHS care – elective or emergency care.

This programme has been designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills with which to plan, lead and deliver healthcare, which is akin to the principles of sustainability, forging the sector’s contribution to combating climate change and the promotion of sustainability.

  • lead arguments for patient care based on the science of climate change
  • recognise the impact of products and consumables from a product life cycle perspective
  • reform procurement to help achieve sustainability in healthcare.

Formal programme assessment

  • 3000-word essay (100% of the marks)

Supplementary assessment to support final essay

After completion of the programme participants will receive an RCN certificate. We have an agreement with Coventry University to provide 20 credits for these programmes at either level 6 (Bachelors) or level 7 (Masters). The programme would equal to 20 credits.

Introduction Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Cohort 4 8 May 2024 15 May 2024 29 May 2024 12 June 2024 26 June 2024 10 July 2024 24 July 2024
Cohort 5 4 September 2024 11 September 2024 25 September 2024 9 October 2024 23 October 2024 6 November 2024 20 November 2024

With academic credits: £1,480 + VAT
Without academic credits: £1,100 + VAT

VAT registered Charities who pay for employees to undertake this programme will be able to claim back the VAT.

Fees must be paid in full in advance of the course start date. 


Rose Gallagher full profile
Rose Gallagher MBE

Awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthdays Honours list, Rose Gallagher provides strategic leadership and specialist advice to the Royal College of Nursing, its members, and key stakeholders across the UK. Her work focuses on Infection Prevention and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the implications for Nursing.

Rose also leads the RCN’s professional nursing activity on sustainability. She is an Executive member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change and has successfully led the RCN Glove Awareness Week and Small Changes Big Differences campaign. Rose recently led the development of the new RCN Leading Sustainability in Health and Social Care Programme.



Clare Nash profileClare Nash

Clare Nash has been a Clinical Procurement Nurse Specialist for 6 years, and a member of the NHS England and Improvement Sustainable Procurement Group. She is the Head of Clinical Products Management for the Black Country Alliance - Sandwell and West Birmingham, and Dudley Group of Hospitals Trusts.

She chairs the Black Country and West Birmingham ICS Greener Care group. Clare works with the RCN to support clinicians in delivering greener healthcare. She authored a paper titled ‘Time to Act: What Nurses Can Do to Reduce the Environmental Burden of PPE’. She is passionate about sharing the changes needed to reduce the NHS carbon footprint.


Dinah Gould profile


Dinah Gould

Dinah Gould is a registered nurse with a long-standing interest in infection prevention and evidence-based practice. Her areas of research include hand hygiene, the use of personal protective equipment, and more recently aseptic technique.

Dinah has an honorary chair at London, City University, works freelance, and is an independent consultant for the RCN. She teaches evidence-based practice to nurses at Roehampton University and Brunel University. She is currently undertaking a project to generate clinical standards and competencies in aseptic techniques for nurses. This work is being undertaken in conjunction with the RCN and colleagues at Cardiff University and Kings College, London. 



Catherine Swan

Catherine Swan is a registered nurse and midwife with over thirty-five years of nursing experience. She has worked across the UK and abroad, specialising in neonatal transport/retrieval nursing, obtaining her BSc in neonatal studies and her Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner qualification. She is passionate about professional education and development and has obtained her PG (cert) in Higher Education and MSc in Advanced Practice (Neonatal and Applied Education).


She regularly lectured at the West of Scotland University Glasgow, and Edinburgh Napier University.   Following early retirement, she now works part-time for the RCN as the Professional Lead in Education.Catherine is passionate about continued education in nursing and the professional development, growth, and future innovation of the nursing profession. 



Participants are required to commit a total of 200 hours of study time for the entire programme. This includes work-based learning activities, online learning, live lectures, seminars and workshops, additional reading, and 6 hours of one-to-one coaching.

Register your interest

We will email you a booking form and further details.

By submitting this form, you are giving the RCN permission to contact you about the RCN sustainability programme.

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Dr John McKinnon

"This course will help you to acquire the knowledge and skills you need to plan, lead and deliver health care, forging the sector’s contribution to combating climate change and the promotion of sustainability.”

Dr. John McKinnon Former Professional Lead RCN

This podcast recognises the serious health effects of air pollution which are exacerbated by rising global temperatures and is a mandatory resource for students to view on this programme.

Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi Debrah was born happy and healthy but suffered a fatal asthma attack due to living next to a major road. Ella is the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death on her death certificate.

Listen to our podcast of a mother’s lived experience.

Find out more about the Ella Roberta Foundation.

Hear from Rhea

Confidence, communication and carbon literacy: a nurse climate change campaigner, Rhea shares what she learned from the RCN’s sustainability programme.  

Education Grant

RCN Foundation offers different types of education grants to support your professional development.
Find out how an education and career development grant from the RCN Foundation can help you fund this course.


How much will it cost to take this programme?

With academic credits: £1,480 + VAT.
Without academic credits: £1,100 + VAT.

Can my organisation fund the programme on my behalf?

Yes, your organisation can fund the programme on your behalf.

Once I have expressed my interest, how many weeks do I have to complete the payment and enrolment process?

Enrolment and payment are due before the programme start date.

How long is the programme?

The module runs over a 13-week period.

The synchronous teaching sessions are delivered on six half days. Two consecutive sessions each month. 

How much study time is needed?

Participants will need to commit a total of 200 hours study.

This includes the online teaching sessions, independent study and research and work-based learning. Plus, six hours of one-to-one coaching. This equates to approximately 15 hours of study per week.

Is coaching offered as part of this programme?

Yes, the programme includes six hours of one-to-one coaching.

The coaching supports learning, and preparation for the assessment. Study skills and assessment guidance are also available from the module tutors. Our RCN library staff also offer a range of support and resources to help.

Is all the learning online?

Yes, module delivery is 100% online.

Made up of online teaching sessions and self-directed learning.

What time do the online sessions run?

Classes run 09:15–13:00. The pre-meet runs 09:15-11:00*. *This may be subject to slight changes; participants will be notified where applicable.


How many CPD hours is this programme worth?

Up to 30 hours of of participatory learning and additional individual learning hours

Will I be issued a certification on completion of the programme?

Yes, a certificate will be issues on completion of the programme.

What are my career prospects on completing the programme?

Completing the programme will place you at the forefront of clinical leadership/management. The programme will equip participants to meet the next major challenge to clinical leadership in health care. Governments will soon be requiring member organisations of the health care sector to assemble plans on how they can forge procurement and practice processes which promote sustainability. Leaders in sustainability in health care will be much sought after professionals in this new world.

How does the learning add value to my team?

The learning content will equip you and your team to engage with the sustainability agenda

Do I need to buy any specific equipment to undertake this module?

 You will need access to a laptop or tablet with camera and microphone capability. A mobile phone is not suitable.

Is this programme suitable for newly registered nurses?

Yes, this programme is suitable for newly qualified nurses.

Do I need to be in a leadership role to join this programme?

No, you do not need to be in a leadership role to complete this programme.

The service improvement plan will help you to show value whatever your role.

We do recommend you have your line managers support to complete this programme. To support the demands of time needed for online classes and independent study. 

Will the member of staff need to take study leave from work?

Yes. Staff need to attend all six half days with study time to complete the programme.

Programme delivery is 100% online and requires a total of 200 hours study. This includes the online teaching sessions, independent study and research and work-based learning. Plus, six hours one-to-one coaching. 


Where can I find out more?

Please visit our web page and complete the expression of interest form, or send your queries to


Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, Room 207, London, W1G 0RN

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