The Royal College of Nursing has said it will ‘ensure that Government plays its part’ in dealing with the issue of climate change.
The RCN has issued a public statement, outlining its commitment to tackling the climate crisis and its intended actions. According to a Healthcare Without Harm report produced earlier this year, the footprint of emissions from healthcare in the UK accounts for 5.4% of the national footprint. This marks the NHS as one of the world’s 15 major healthcare emitters.
‘We are entering a period of unprecedented environmental breakdown,’ says the RCN in its statement. ‘Human activity is changing the planet’s biosphere bringing disruption to planetary health through climate change, air pollution, ocean acidification, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity.’
The statement addresses why healthcare professionals can have an impact on climate change and summarises the RCN’s priorities for action. These priorities include identifying ways in which members can proactively contribute to influencing healthcare policies, lobbying for sustainable procurement for items used by nurses and midwives, and lobbying for greater transparency of government policies.
‘As the largest profession delivering health care, nursing is uniquely placed to advocate, educate and lead action to mitigate the risks associated with global temperature increases,’ says Rose Gallagher, RCN Lead for Sustainability. ‘RCN members recognise the importance of health care providers acting on climate change now for the benefit of patients and population health. As a profession we can influence in driving changes to help us practice, work and live in more sustainable ways’.