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The UK's primary care sustainability network

Principles of sustainable healthcare

The four principles of sustainable healthcare.

According to the Centre for Sustainable Health Care, The four principles of sustainable health care are:

Prevention

The best way to improve patient care whilst reducing emissions of any illness is to prevent it. Primary Care plays a key role in disease prevention within the health service, and we at Greener Practice believe that Primary Care needs both to have a stronger voice in Greener NHS discussions, and to be funded in a way that supports health promotion and disease prevention more effectively. Primary Care can also play an important role working with local communities (for example on air pollution, active travel, sustainable healthy food, use of green spaces etc).

Patient empowerment

A Greener Practice approach to good healthcare is one which ensures that decisions about prescribing are focused on patient-centred approaches. This supports better treatment concordance and patient education and empowerment. There is therefore overlap between a green approach and agendas such as person-centred care, shared decision making, over diagnosis and over treatment.

Lean pathways

Clear and appropriate diagnosis (with appropriate computer coding); careful consideration of appropriate investigations and treatment; streamlined systems to avoid duplication of care, reduced hospital attendances and avoidance of wasteful practices are all examples of lean systems.

Low carbon alternatives

We can reduce the carbon footprint of care, with no detriment (and often with benefit) to patients by considering low carbon alternatives, such as reusable PPE, reusable surgical instruments, and lower carbon prescribing options. In asthma care for example, we could prioritise choosing the right inhaler for the right patient. Many patients find a low-carbon dry powder inhalers easier to use than metered dose inhalers. For more information see the asthma toolkit section.