OUR SITES: Centre for Sustainable Healthcare | Sustainable Action Planning | NHS Forest | Mapping Sustainable Healthcare | Carbon Addict
Skip to Navigation

Health Benefits of SAP

A healthy environment is essential to the health of those who live in it.  We know that access to natural spaces is important for mental health and for encouraging physical activity.  We know that air pollution is a big factor in lung disease, and that contaminated land and water contribute to many medical conditions.  And we have begun to understand the dangers of climate change for health, caused by spread of infectious disease, starvation from crop failure, and injuries or homelessness from extreme weather events, sea-level rise and conflict over natural resources.  In May 2009, doctors writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, described climate change as “the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century”.

So, when health services protect green spaces, reduce pollution and combat climate change, they are not just looking after the environment: they are protecting the health of staff and patients as well.

At the same time, changes which improve sustainability are often healthier in their own right – for example, supporting staff and patients to walk and cycle more, or reduce their consumption of meat and processed food.

Another important health benefit of SAP is really a health service benefit.

In working together for sustainability, clinical teams are able to explore opportunities for improvements in their service and come up with solutions.  They develop a culture that is proud of the care provided, and says “we’ll do it a bit better tomorrow”.

SAP is based on four principles of sustainable healthcare:

  1. Disease prevention and health promotion
  2. Patient empowerment and self-care
  3. Lean, efficient systems
  4. Provision of clinically-proven technologies / treatment choices with lowest environmental impact

All of these principles have the potential to improve patient outcome or experience of care, while increasing its carbon- and cost-efficiency.  For example, reducing waste by streamlining services (“lean, efficient systems”) will mean that patients experience fewer unnecessary steps and less waiting, while staff have more time to spend on direct care.