NHS Green Bees: Bringing environmental action into clinical practice

Tamsyn Cowden, Community Staff Nurse

Powys Teaching Health Board

The need for NHS Green Bees

The project came from the need for the NHS to reduce its carbon emissions as presently it produces 5.4% of the UKs total emissions (equivalent to 11 coal fired power stations).

The urgency is recognised nationally and globally:

  • “Climate change is the defining health challenge of our time” Margaret Chan, World Health Organization

  • NHS Wales: “Swift action over the next five years is critical to ensuring the targets within this (decarbonisation) strategy are adhered to and low carbon must be at the core of decision making. We need it to be embedded into everyday processes, so much so that they become integral to the decisions NHS Wales makes.” (Vaughan Gething)

  • Royal College of Nursing “The RCN is clear that initiatives that protect our planet and mitigate climate change are also good for our wider population’s health and therefore investment in action now will bring multiple benefits and value in future years to our personal lives and health care provision in the future”.

Project Aims

NHS Green Bees aimed to cut waste and C02 emissions, save money and improve the natural environment.


Time was an issue for several teams because of the Pandemic, staff shortages and challenging caseloads.

There were varying levels of motivation. The project did not address this issue but my own feelings are that, in contrast to the Pandemic advertising, there has been no government mass messaging, therefore its absence tells the general population (including NHS staff) that the climate and ecological crisis is not in fact a crisis at all, therefore there is no immediate need for change.

Because of these factors, I had to chase up some teams to start the project (two didn’t start) and to complete their questionnaires, which I found difficult.

Through the Bevan programme I learned the importance of engaging with others who have similar enthusiasm and also those in positions of influence. This means that the next phase of NHS Green Bees is different.

Key Outcomes

The following certificate has been given to each team to show the combined results of the project. (Based on extrapolating results over one year.) All participating teams made improvements.

Next Steps

Possible adoption of Peer to Peer teaching currently being developed by the Carbon Literacy Trust specifically for the NHS.

Continue with NHS Green Bees group in Powys Teaching Health Board.

Continue working with other Bevan staff to promote a NHS Wales Green Network.

My Exemplar Experience

The Bevan Exemplar programme has given me support, encouragement and direction to find a way I can help to make a healthy world for future generations.



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