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Greening the workplace

Sustainability

Why it matters in health and care, and what the RCN is doing about it?

Modern healthcare is a major contributor to Climate Change. Health and care providers are major producers of greenhouse gases. Many of the ways we deliver health and care create harmful waste and bi-products, which increase the burden on disease and health care. 

Conversely, measures to tackle Climate Change, such reducing petrol vehicle use or increasing people’s physical activity, can have positive health effects, both at an individual and a societal level. 

The RCN is committed to supporting members and the wider nursing community to deliver care in a way that is environmentally sustainable, improves health outcomes, and helps to reduce costs. 

We believe that nurses have a key role to play in addressing these challenges, and in supporting the development of environmentally friendly and sustainable care. 

As the largest part of the health and care workforce, nurses are at the forefront of providing care to communities and people affected by Climate Change. As a profession grounded in science, and one trusted by the public, nurses also well placed to talk to those they care for about the relationships between Climate Change and health.


Our work on Sustainability is delivered across a number of areas:

Products

Online Nursing Sustainably Study Guide

The RCN’s online guide includes details of key resources and books on promoting sustainable nursing practice within health and care settings. There are also links to searches for materials available within the RCN's extensive book and journal collections.

Better procurement

The RCN’s ‘Small Changes, big differences’ work is designed to support nurses in making smarter and more sustainable procurement choices, which are good for their services, their patients, and the environment.

Waste reduction

The RCN’s guidance on managing waste from health, social, and personal care provides concrete examples for reducing harm to the environment and cutting waste disposal costs.

Alliances

Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

The RCN has partnered with The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, a UK-wide charity, to launch the ‘Green Nurse Network’ designed to support nurses who want to learn or share sustainable nursing practice.

The Green Nurse Network is an informal, online community for nurses, students, nurse educators and retired nurses who take the threats from climate change seriously and wish to work together to establish what this means for nursing practice. Those with no experience and expertise and those with plenty are all welcome.

You can join the conversation here or contact the network lead Rebecca at rebecca.gibbs@sustainablehealthcare.org. Updates and green nursing news are also available on Twitter @greennurse.

UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC)

The RCN is a founder member of the Alliance, which brings together leading healthcare professional organisations. It advocates for actions at governmental and system level to tackle climate change and protect and promote public health.

It was formed in 2016 to coordinate action, provide leadership and amplify the voices of the UK’s healthcare professionals on all things relating to Climate Change and sustainability.

You can find out more on the Alliance’s website.

Health Care Without Harm

The RCN is a member of ‘Health Care Without Harm’, an international coalition of health care organisations and professionals.

The coalition shares a vision of a health care sector that does no harm and is committed to preventing disease and promoting the health of people and the environment.

You can find out more on the Health Care Without Harm website.