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Sustainability in health and care practice

22 Apr 2024

Rosemary Flowers-Wanjie

Policy Lead

Rosemary Flowers-Wanjie explains the background behind developing and publishing content on sustainable practice

In 2022, we undertook a review of our standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

One highlight of the review process was our discussions on sustainability. We worked closely with the Office of the Chief Sustainability Officer and Greener NHS to hear about the importance of sustainability in health and care. We also included sustainability as part of our consultation workshop series and discussed what it means to practise sustainably in health and care.

In the consultation, we asked respondents the question: should improving sustainability in health and care practice be a part of the standards? If so, what ought to be included in the standard? Sustainability was a popular topic for respondents. There were 114 respondents that left comments to this question.

Responses to the question of whether sustainability should be a part of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics were mixed. A majority (56%) of respondents replied that sustainability should be a part of the standards. However, 19% replied 'maybe' and 26% replied 'no'.

Those in favour of a standard on sustainability referenced the Health and Social Care Act 2022, NHS net zero commitments and WHO statements that climate change is a health challenge as the reasons why they were interested in practising more sustainably. There was also reference to the impact of environmental sustainability on tackling health inequalities. Many of these respondents also referred to public health narratives and duties of care towards the environment due to climate change challenges.

However, other respondents were concerned that including sustainability in the standards would be an overreach of HCPC’s regulatory remit. Some were also concerned that a standard on sustainability may be challenging for some registrants to meet. These respondents referred to the lack of choice that some registrants have regarding how they provide services – for example ambulance routes or single-use plastics in operating departments.

Taking all the feedback we received, we decided that the standards of conduct performance and ethics aren't the best or only vehicle through which we can promote environmental sustainability in healthcare practice at this moment in time.

We have therefore taken forward what we have heard from respondents, considering the relationship that environmental sustainability has to our other standards and materials that we publish for registrants.

To help registrants – and future registrants – benefit from the discussions that we have had throughout the consultation, we have now produced content on sustainable practice.

This is intended to help registrants become familiar with sustainability and its link to public protection, health and care. It is also intended to signpost further resources that will help to demystify the steps that registrants can take to practice more sustainably, if they wish to do so.

Head to the page below.

More information on sustainability in the standards

Page updated on: 22/04/2024