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RCEM leads the way in setting standards for ‘green’ emergency healthcare

4 July 2023

Today (4 July 2023) The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) launches GreenED; an innovative new ‘green’ accreditation framework for Emergency Departments (EDs).

This follows the release of an RCEM position statement on environmentally sustainable emergency healthcare in May, recommending all EDs and emergency healthcare staff engage with the environmental agenda.

Dr Sandy Robertson, chair of the College Environmental Specialist Interest Group said: “I am really excited about the launch of GreenED today. Our framework will empower Emergency Departments across the country to improve their environmental sustainability, reduce their impact on the planet, and by doing so improve the health of our patients.”

GreenED is unique in being the first sustainability framework developed specifically for an emergency care setting. The framework sets out evidence-based actions arranged within three levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) and is accessed via an online portal, which also provides supporting resources and inbuilt carbon calculators. Successful completion of the actions within a level leads to formal accreditation from RCEM, allowing an ED to demonstrate the steps they are taking to transition to net zero healthcare, in line with the NHS’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

Dr Zoe Steley, Clinical Co-Lead for GreenED explains: “The aim of GreenED is to make it straightforward, cost-effective, motivating and fun for ED staff to reduce the impacts of our everyday clinical practice.

“The framework is designed to enable effective collaboration, track carbon and cost savings, and integrate lessons learnt so that no one has to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel. Our motto is ‘think big, act small and scale quickly’. We believe this sort of collective action is key to tackling a problem as immense as the climate emergency and hope every ED in the UK will sign up”

Eight EDs across England trialed the framework for eight months and reported total carbon savings of over 15 tCO2e. The pilot sites also reported additional benefits including financial savings of over £40,000 and an improved patient experience.

Dr Adrian Boyle, RCEM President, said: “The GreenED initiative has been a great success in finding out how we can reduce our environmental impact without impairing the quality of care.”

The NHS must tackle climate change if it is to deliver on its core purpose: to improve health and care, now and for future generations.

Which is why, in October 2020, the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero, in response to the profound and growing threat to health posed by climate change.

NHS England has committed to becoming net zero for directly controlled emissions by 2040 and net for emissions that the NHS influences by 2045. All other nations of the UK have established targets to transition to net zero healthcare over the next two decades.

Dr Nick Watts, Chief Sustainability Officer, NHS England said: “There is overwhelming support for a greener NHS across the system, and we know emergency healthcare staff in all parts of the country are already working hard to provide high-quality, low-carbon care for their patients and communities, while saving the NHS money.

“The GreenED framework is yet another fantastic example of the leadership from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, working with its membership to tackle climate change. We’re excited to support this new initiative, and to continue to work with the College to encourage even more staff and clinical groups to take action to help the NHS reach its net zero target, for the good of patients and the planet.”


Notes to editor

Visit the GreenED website to find out more and how EDs can get involved.

Watch this video to find out more.

And to join the conversation follow the GreenED team on Twitter

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