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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:

Project Aims

NHS Green Bees aimed to cut waste and CO2 emissions, save money and improve the natural environment.

NHS Green Bees aims

The Project

NHS Green Bees drew on behavioural psychology as presented in the UN “Little book of Green Nudges” (designed as a guide for universities to reduce their environmental impact through behaviour change).

It consisted of a pilot across eight teams in Mid-Powys including midwives, district nurses, dentists and specialist nurses. Each team member was asked to make one new sustainable change from a selection of nine, presented on a honeycomb poster. Details were given in an “Action pack” and explanatory video.

NHS Green Bees action honeycomb

An Action Pack was developed to explain each action further


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, in addition to time, it could have been staff not seeing the need for change as the crisis is seen as distant in place and time. They are also prioritising the immediate and important issue of caring for sick patients and juggling busy home lives.

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

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.

Certificate of achievement and recognition

Next Steps

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.

We have set up a staff NHS Green Bees group, working closely with the Sustainability team.

We have organised Carbon Literacy Training for the executive team, backed by our Chief Executive.

We will continue working with other staff, linked through the Bevan Commission, to promote an 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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