NICE’s strategy on sustainability: current progress and next steps

Fizzah Ali, NICE clinical fellow, outlines the key steps towards a sustainability strategy at NICE

Fizzah Ali, Clinical fellow, Health and Social Care Directorate, NICE

NICE has a broad portfolio of work on sustainability and we are committed to promoting environmental, social and financial sustainability throughout the health and care system. NICE uses for example, energy efficient lighting, has eliminated the use of single use plastics and reduced paper usage. NICE is also a member of the Cycle to Work scheme and the use of public transport is encouraged (when advised under COVID-19 restrictions) through a rails season ticket scheme.     

As a medical clinical fellow at NICE, I am responsible for the agenda of the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) which oversees NICE's sustainability work. As part of our strategy, we recently held a series of green workshops.

The attendees listening to the presentation were surprised to hear that the National Health Service (NHS) produces higher carbon emissions than the global average for healthcare, at 5.4%. That the carbon footprint has reduced since 2007, despite an increase in clinical activity, demonstrates that change is possible.

Attendees at a workshop suggested a variety of valuable quick wins. Such as, an online log of green behaviours that employees carry out with a green champion noted at the end of the month and the use of Terracyle, the global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials.

Promoting sustainable implementation of guidance recommendations and obtaining information on environmental sustainability of medical technologies is an important area of our work in development.

This includes the publication of a patient decision aid on the use of asthma inhalers, which focuses on the difference in carbon footprint between metered dose and dry powder inhalers a guideline on indoor air quality at home, and a quality standard on outdoor air quality and health.

Over the course of the coming months, we will be taking further steps to develop a Sustainability Development Management Plan which outlines our strategy and development opportunities over the next two to five years.  


NHS carbon footprint. Sustainable Development Unit. Accessed on 24th March 2019

Tags: sustainability, carbon footprint

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