Over the last weeks, there have been many reports of health professionals been driven to action to have their voices heard.
Health leaders around the world were mobilised to write to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada in support of Dr Tim Takaro, a highly respected expert on the health effects of climate change who is awaiting sentencing for the action he took to stop an oil pipeline.
In the UK, healthcare professionals gathered outside Downing Street to protest against the continued use of government subsidies and licences for fossil fuel producers. Speaking at the demonstration, UKHACC Ambassador Fiona Godlee said health professionals feel morally obliged to protest on behalf of young people who are being failed by political leaders.
The BMA Public Health Committee recently passed an emergency motion calling on the UK Government to Stop Jackdaw and to phase out all fossil fuel extraction projects with increased investment in home energy efficiency.
And in April this year, 29 health leaders intervened in the case of Angus Rose, a 52 year old man who went on hunger strike for 37 days demanding that the government’s chief scientific adviser give a public briefing to MPs and ministers about the climate crisis. The open letter from health leaders supported the call for a briefing to MPs, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change subsequently agreed to host the briefing, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks. It is vital that MPs are informed on the latest science regarding climate change and its impacts and we encourage you to do what you can to urge your MP to attend the briefing.
There are many different ways to advocate for change, what’s clear is that the voice of health professionals is mobilised, and is needed.
Have your say
GMC Good Medical Practice Review
The deadline for responses to the GMC Good Medical Practice review is also approaching. The consultation is open to everyone and closes on 20 July 2022.
The climate and ecological crises present significant threats to human health, with many of these health impacts already being experienced. Our healthcare systems are both vulnerable and culpable and the health community has a role to play in leading the transformational change that is needed to protect our health service and the people it serves.
The GMC GMP review provides an opportunity to ensure sustainability and climate change impacts for health are incorporated by proposing recommendations to the GMP that encourages and delivers sustainable practice in healthcare.
There is just over one week left to submit responses to the DEFRA Consultation on environmental targets, which closes on 27 June 2022. The Asthma+Lung UK Environment Act consultation tool enables individuals to submit responses. It is critical that the voice of health professionals contribute to the overall response, and we do encourage you to take a few minutes to access the toolkit and submit your response. The toolkit has been designed to provide helpful background information on the key questions – of which there are only four. There is also opportunity to answer a few other questions, if you want to input further but this is optional. It only takes a few minutes and is very simple to use.
The view of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change is that the target of 10mcg/m3 by 2040 lacks ambition and is not strong enough to achieve healthy air for all – evidence suggests that with existing and in the pipeline policies already in place, the 10cmg/m3 target could be achieved by 2030. Air pollution is a health emergency the government must act on. We don’t have time to delay until 2040. We must take steps to reduce levels now and set proper legal targets for 2030. We’ll be publishing our final response next week.
Yesterday, NHS England announced that for the first time, every trust in the country now has their own roadmap to tackle climate change and meet the NHS’s net zero commitments. The new green plans are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than a million tonnes over the next three years – the same as taking 520,000 cars off the road.
The NHS became the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero; by 2040 for the emissions it controls directly, and by 2045 for the emissions it influences. This announcement came as the UK marked Clean Air Day, highlighting that up to 36,000 deaths occur every year as a result of poor air quality, disproportionately affecting our poorest and most vulnerable communities.
You can find out more about how the NHS is getting greener and get involved by signing up here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/email-bulletins/greener-nhs/
Health actors promoting sustainable diets
The Faculty for Public Health UK and Eating Better are conducting a survey to gather information about health organisations’ positions and practices related to sustainable diets. The survey contains questions about health organisations, their priorities and policies, and ways in which they could be supported to incorporate policies or positions related to sustainable diets. The survey should take no longer than ten minutes, and is entirely voluntary. We hope to be able to share and discuss the results of the survey at one of our lunchtime In Conversation sessions later in the year.
If you are interested in taking part, please visit the survey before Friday 15 July. If you have questions, please contact Kristin Bash, Chair of the Food Special Interest Group at the Faculty of Public Health (email@example.com).
Job opportunity: Net Zero Strategy Advisor
NHS England and NHS Improvement are seeking applications from highly motivated professionals who can work across organisations and teams to lead on the establishment and management of clinical and non-clinical networks, stakeholder engagement and event coordination in support f the goals of the Greener NHS programme.
Further details are available here: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/vacancy/917255939
Grant funding: Biological vulnerability to extreme heat in maternal and child health
Wellcome Funded award to fund research teams working to advance understanding of the biological vulnerability to extreme heat in the content of maternal and child health. The funding is intended to cover a leading research programme with up to 2million available per award over a 3-5 year period. The deadline for applications is 8 August 2022.
The National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) has issued a cross-programme call for research to support the delivery of a more sustainable UK health and care system, including mitigating the effects of climate change on health and care delivery. This is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of net zero health and care research, and will highlight its relevance and importance to researchers and the broader system. We’ve collated the following NIHR managed research programmes that will most relevant to you:
The Research for Patient Benefit programme funds health, public health, and social care research covering a wide range of health service challenges. The programme offers researchers considerable flexibility to focus on any subject area, topics and research methodologies that support the day-to-day practice of health service and social care staff, including effectiveness of NHS service delivery to reach net zero. This call would be particularly relevant to clinicians who are researching net zero clinical interventions, assessing the effectiveness/ cost-effectiveness of net zero interventions and researching the provision of NHS services. Applications close 3 July.
The NIHR Academy is also part of this themed call, with two programmes that include a pre-doctoral fellowship scheme – the NIHR Fellowships Programme and the Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme. These calls would be most appropriate for clinicians or academic staff who have completed at least one degree and are interested in becoming leading researchers in sustainability and net zero research. PhD funding is not offered under this programme. Applications close in July – date TBC.
Health inequalities, climate justice and the climate crisis in the UK
Wednesday 22 June 2022 | 12.00-13.30 BST (online, free)
The second of the UKHACC In Conversation Lunchtime Sessions which will provide an opportunity to hear from leading voices on the link between health inequalities, climate justice and the climate crisis, and explore the important role that health professionals need to play influencing action. This session will provide an opportunity to hear from a panel of experts working in this field, and stimulate discussion on what actions members can take in their own organisations.
Topics that will be covered by the panel include:
- The intersection of health, the climate crisis and health inequalities
- The root causes of social inequality and ill health
- Linking actions to improve health equity with actions to address the climate crisis
Building on the Healthy Climate Prescription
This series of webinars by the Global Climate and Health Alliance build on the Healthy Climate Prescription and offer context about the UNFCCC processes. Spanish language interpretation will be available for this webinar series:
- Big meetings, Big expectations A report back on Stockholm +50 and the UNFCCC Intersessional 23 June @ 15:00 UK – Register here
- Fossil Fuel Phase Out and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty – Date TBC, but if you register for the time that you want, we will confirm with you once the date is available. Time A – 08:00 UK – Register here / Time B – 15:00 UK – Register here
- Financing Deep Dive28 July @ 15:00 UK – Register here
- Health Systems Deep Dive 25 August @ 15:00 UK – Register here
Global Mental Health seminar
Thursday 30 June 2022 | 14.00-16.30 BST (online, free)
This seminar hosted by the University of Leicester will focus on the topic on planetary health, learning from colleagues across the globe about how psychologists and allied health professionals are engaging with the climate and ecological emergencies. Register here
The Power Threat Meaning Framework and human response to climate breakdown
Monday 4 July | 15.00-17.00 BST (online, free)
Hosted by the Psychological Society of South Africa and the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK, this seminar will explore how the PTMF could support non-pathologising understandings of a range of responses to the climate and ecological emergencies. Register here
Planetary Mental Health: perspectives from the Climate Frontlines in the Philippines
Tuesday 5 July 2022 | 12.00-12.00 BST (hybrid, free, Imperial College London)
The Institute of Global Health Innovation Special Guest Lecture will be delivered by Dr Renzo Guinto, Director of Planetary and Global Health at St Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine, Philippines, and Chief Planetary Health Scientist at the Sunway Centre for Planetary health, Malaysia.
The seminar will discuss the nexus of mental health, climate change, and planetary health using perspectives and experiences from the Philippines, one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, which is already bearing the brunt of the climate emergency. Register here
Reports, articles and videos
We’ve pulled together a list of recent reports, articles and videos that are worth reading, watching and sharing.
“Too little effort in tackling pollution is resulting in too many lives being lost” is the core message in this BMJ article. The article summarises some of the key messages of the updated report from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health that said, “We cannot continue to ignore pollution. We are going backwards”.
“Climate change threatens people’s health dramatically, but solutions are within reach”. This was the one of the key messages from a global report by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). The report, which came on the back of a three-year project involving more than 80 scientists in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe provides a global review of current knowledge and examines how climate change and its drivers across sectors are impacting health. The authors stress the need for health-in-all-policies and levels of governance and say that it is essential for policy makers to consider the potential benefits for health, and other outcomes when designing mitigation actions.
Climate Outreach have produced a ‘Fairness in UK Climate Advocacy: User Guide’ which outlines eight principles for communicating fairness in the context of UK policy.
This The Lancet Planetary Health article says that despite the tireless of activities of scientists to win the argument on climate change, those in the highest offices of power still seen to largely fail to understand the depth and breadth we face and the urgency of the response needed.
Does Europe Eat the World? This report by WWF says that Europe is consuming more than its fair share and wastes scandalous quantities of food.
Clean Air London has published a COP26 half-term report analysing media and other activity in the G20 countries over the last six months. The report shows that urgent action is needed to pick up the pace on NDCs and net zero commitments, adaptation, loss and damage, financing and delivery.
An exhibition linking art, environment, and health is currently running until 27 August at Bethlem Gallery in Bethlem Royal Hospital, Kent. An Ecology of Mind brings together four artists, with contributions from technicians and staff from across the Bethlam site, with an interest in the complex relationships that connect art, ecology and health.
This guest blog by UKHACC Fellow in Sustainable Surgery, Melissa Pegg, says that reducing the carbon footprint of surgery requires a holistic approach.
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