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”.
NHS Green Bees aimed to cut waste and CO2 emissions, save money and improve the natural environment.
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.
An Action Pack was developed to explain each action further