Helena Clements: The climate crisis is a health crisis!
In 2019, I had an epiphany. As a paediatrician, mother, grandmother, and a long-time owner of an eco-home, I was able to join the dots in my life. Now, I can add activist to that list and possibly more importantly to my readers, Clinical Sustainability lead for our trust and Nottinghamshire integrated care system. I also have a role in our RCPCH climate change working group. I came to realise that saving the lives of children was rather limiting if they did not have a habitable planet to live on. So, I retired clinically and am using my time and seniority to join the dots.
For adult medical colleagues, this means I am also banging the drum for primary prevention, better control of long-term conditions and good palliative and end of life care. This is good for our patients and their families, good for clinicians and the NHS, it lowers cost and is much better for the planet.
We need a new vison for health with capacity for current pressures. However, this must work in tandem with targeted resources for public health, maternity and children and education on health, wellbeing, diet and exercise. By doing this, we can stem the flow of adult patients into secondary care, and we can start to embrace a healthy, lower carbon lifestyle. Failure to do so is unimaginable in terms of human and planetary health - and it will be massively expensive.
As a tired and demoralised workforce who have staggered through Covid and another hideous winter we need a new vison for ourselves, our trainees and students, our families, and patients. What better way than to join the dots and get cracking with decarbonising our own homes, our wards and our communities and then get political?! As a collective, the health care community has enormous power to demand change if we choose to use it. This is about global economic change, not just the funding of the NHS. Don’t leave an old paediatrician to shout for you! You have the words, the knowledge and the numbers to do this. Find the time and let’s create hope together!
Alice Joy: Sustainability is good for patients
Alice Joy from the Patient and Carer Network on the complex subject of sustainability and how it's good for patients.