Saturday, July 21, 2007

Taking the temperature: towards an NHS response to global warming

Interesting report from the New Economic Foundation (NEF) and the NHS Confederation on some of the steps that the NHS needs to consider to reduce its impact on climate change.

It doesn't go nearly far enough though. It does talk about green transport plans, using renewables, recycling more which are all great, but I think it misses the fundemental shift in think that is required.

For example, with 5% of all traffic being related to health care, simply putting in park and ride schemes is hardly likely to make a dent. The report does mention the closer to home strategy and suggests that it will reduce travelling. Frustratingly, there has been no study to see if this is true or not (or no study that I am aware of). Certainly patients recouperating in a local community hospital close to their relatives will be benficial (although this would need to be measured against potentially poorer energy efficiency of the smaller hospital). But what about intensive support at home? Plenty of staff driving round all day visiting patient to help them stay at home. Good for patient care, but is it good for the environment? We desparately need answers to these questions.

The report also doesn't enter the debate about increasing specialisation and centralisation of services and how they increase travel. We need a sensible debate about what we want and how far away we want it!


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