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What do patients think about sustainable healthcare?

Sussex Health and Care Partnership, Care Without Carbon and Surrey County Council came together to conduct a detailed research project into patient views on sustainable healthcare.

What do patients think about sustainable healthcare?

Working together across Surrey and Sussex

In a joint collaborative piece of work alongside Sussex Health and Care Partnership, Care Without Carbon and Surrey County Council sought to understand how the public perceive sustainability in healthcare, how they view changes to health care that support sustainability and what we can do to better integrate their concerns and views into the actions we take in delivering our Green Plans.

Working together on this project was a really useful way to really make the most of this research opportunity which will be so informative in how we take forward our Green Plans.

How was the research collected?

Working with Pearl Research, we took both a qualitative and quantitive approach to the research to ensure the data was as comprehensive as possible. This included:

  • Deliberative workshops in Surrey and Sussex
  • In-depth interviews with audience with specific needs such as mobility or long term issues
  • Online survey of over 800 people representative of Surrey and Sussex populations
  • Desk research.

This robust mix of research measures ensured that we got a broad range of views and solid data to help inform how we engage with patients on sustainable healthcare.

How in favour of sustainable healthcare are our patients?

Overall patients felt that the NHS, by its very nature was not ‘bad’ in terms of carbon emissions and that the carbon footprint of care was unavoidable compared to say choosing to fly.

However there was also a sense that the NHS could do something, especially around waste. The increase of PPE in the pandemic was a real factor in waste being a high priority, but also drug waste was mentioned.

Once participants were made aware of the carbon impact of the NHS (as 4% of the national carbon footprint) they did appreciate the need to take action to help contribute to lowering emissions.

There wasn’t a clear understanding of the links between our changing climate and health such as the increase in A&E admissions during extreme heat events. This gives us a good base to work from in terms of sharing how and why we want to do things differently to reduce the carbon footprint of care – and reach our Net Zero Carbon by 2040 target.

Encouragingly, there is strong patient support for a wide range of sustainability interventions, with very low levels of opposition to the majority measures presented in the research which you can explore in more depth here

“Governments change, but we are all passionate about the NHS – so it’s nice to see that this is the NHS setting an example” (Surrey based participant in research)

What will this research help us with?

The research findings will be invaluable in supporting the actions set out in the Green Plans.

From how we travel to how we deliver care, projects are rolling out across the region that could change the patient experience (while always ensuring levels of care are not compromised) as we strive to reduce our carbon emissions.

More clarity on where patients are at with their understanding of what we mean by sustainable healthcare will ensure that we talk about these changes in the most meaningful, and helpful way so that patients feel informed and empowered by the changes.

For more information on the project, please email hello@carewithoutcarbon.org