Ask not what your organisation can do for you…

David Pencheon As the NHS becomes more savvy about its responsibilities to the future (after all, do we really want to behave in a way that risks making us ALL patients tomorrow) we might want to consider the questions we should be asking of ourselves, or at least our own NHS organisation – be it a general practice or a large foundation trust or something in between. Here are three questions for starters – I will post more in future weeks to see how much we can challenge ourselves – and also work out what we need to know in order to act right now.

Is there a policy about buying goods and services as sustainably as possible? (60% of the NHS’s carbon footprint comes from procurement) – this applies to everything from drugs to paper to food.

How do we manage single use items? Do we really make every effort to buy single packs that have the absolute minimum of wrapping and don’t come in such bulk buys that most goes to landfill?

Do we organise our car park and transport options to genuinely make travel as low carbon as possible? Are the bike racks covered and right next to the front door (rather than being tucked behind the dustbins) and, if you are work at a large hospital, how many car parking spaces are at a reduced price for those who share cars?

Ask nicely, ask gently, ask as if you’d like to help, but ask…it’s a health issue…

David Pencheon is a UK trained public health doctor and is currently director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit (England).