Climate Action

Photo by Marek:

The Climate crisis is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century.  The triple inequality of the crisis will only serve to widen existing health inequalities:

What are we doing?

GPs at the Deep End Bristol Network recognises the climate emergency and the devasting impact it is having on health inequalities.  We are working to help our patients, practices and systems mitigate and adapt to the crisis by:

Below are some our Deep End fellowship projects designed to help primary care and the communities it serves, mitigate and adapt to the crisis.

  1. Health Creation – Prevention is better than cure and has a lower carbon footprint. Jess Wynter Bee (Deep End fellow) and her wider GP surgery team, are working to increase healthy lifestyle choices by patients and staff, leading to disease prevention.  They engaged with local exercise providers and their social prescribing team and created this Physical Activity Resource document to streamline the referral process.  Text messages promoting healthier choices were created for clinicians to send to patients and the practice dietician held a ‘Healthy Snacks’’ session.  The practice encourages active travel such as walking and cycling.  It held a Practice Park Run and been awarded ‘Active Practice’.  A waiting room mural is planned to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
  2. Non-pharmaceutical Treatments – Medicines make up 25% of the NHS carbon footprint and often have side effects whilst non-pharmaceutical treatments such as increasing physical activity and increasing nature and community connections can be more effective with added social benefits and minimal side effects e.g. prescribing an antidepressant vs helping someone access a weekly gardening & cooking group.  Jess Wynter Bee has been working with local providers to raise awareness of non-pharmaceutical options across our area.  The webpage for clinicians now has the Healthier with Nature Directory as well as local nature maps.  These videos clearly show the benefits of group exercise classes and wild swimming.
  3. Deprescribing & Inhalers – Overprescribing is associated with increased risk of interactions and side effects as well as increased carbon. We implemented an Iron deprescribing project and a Pregabalin deprescribing project for one GP practice to tackle this.  Certain inhalers can be difficult to use and have a high carbon footprint.  We have worked with our ICB pharmacy team to update the inhaler guidelines and promote lower carbon inhalers and improve asthma control.
  4. Green Impact for Health Toolkit – This online toolkit outlines practical actions that GP practices can take to lower their carbon footprint. We have promoted this toolkit to GP practices and helped practices to undertake actions.
  5. Greener Practice & Wider Connections Greener Practice is a national network which supports GPs everywhere provide better, greener healthcare.  Jess Wynter Bee used her fellowship time to grow the Bristol & Bath Greener Practice network and develop wider connections.  This work helped create the CATCH (Communities Acting Together for Climate & Health) programme, a collaboration between the Voluntary, Charity and Social Enterprise sector alliance and Primary Care.  The aim of this programme is to help empower communities to act on the climate crisis and improve their health collectively.

Please contact the greener practice team if you have any questions about this work or would like to get involved:

What can I do?

The climate crisis will affect us all.  We need everyone working on ways to make change and acting together is a fantastic way to face the issues positively.  Below are some actions you might like to consider:

  1. Join Greener Practice. Everyone is very welcome – it’s not just for clinicians.
  2. Encourage Health Creation – See what is available in your area and connect with your social prescribers and local exercise and nature group providers. Adapt the Healthy choices text messages for your practice and consider becoming an Active Practice.
  3. Quality Improvement Projects – Consider doing a project at your GP practice. Check out the Asthma toolkit for inhaler project ideas or email us for the Iron and Pregabalin projects –  The Cornish Greener Practice website has other ideas for excellent projects.
  4. Use the RCGP Green Impact for Health toolkit to help your GP practice become as environmentally friendly as possible.  This 15-point Green Plan and Quick Wins document can help you get started.
  5. Lobbying & Activism – There are many ways to use your voice. Find the one that works for you and push for change.  You could use this BMJ checklist as a starting point to discuss change with your organisation or join a climate activism.

GPs at the Deep End Bristol – Environmentally Sustainable Events policy