Aims, Objectives and Background The climate crisis is the biggest health threat facing humanity and healthcare accounts for approximately 5% of the UK’s carbon footprint. To address this, the NHS has set the ambitious target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040. This raises the question as to how emergency departments – sites of resource-intensive clinical activity – can be engaged appropriately on environmental sustainability. Can a standardised approach be developed to hasten and consolidate efforts? To test this, we developed the GreenED framework. The aim was to trial a set of actionable criteria that could be implemented by any ED seeking to measure and reduce impacts, and increase staff engagement. It is designed to be easy to implement in the context of the emergency care crisis, and administered by RCEM. To our knowledge, this is the first framework in the world specifically designed for use in EDs.
Method and Design The framework is modelled on UCL’s successful LEAF programme for sustainable laboratories. Criteria were drafted based on a review of literature in healthcare sustainability relevant to emergency care, and structured into bronze, silver and gold levels based on anticipated feasibility. ED staff in 8 departments across England were then recruited to pilot bronze level. Following an induction session, participants were engaged via monthly meetings, providing updates on progress and sharing approaches and challenges. Verbal feedback and written submissions were collected.
Results and Conclusion Sites attempted as many actions as possible; most achieved at least 3 criteria. Identified obstacles were lack of senior support, guidance on how to implement changes, and time for sustainability work. Through both measurable impacts and qualitative feedback, this pilot has shown a clear demand for reducing environmental impacts, but significant challenges impeding progress. To continue leading in this we need to ensure senior buy-in and dedicate resources towards improving the sustainability of everyday departmental practices.
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