There is a growing understanding that sustainable health requires not only effective medical approaches, but also healthy environments and lifestyles. What is good for the climate and the environment is good for health. Policies needed to mitigate climate change will exert health effects by acting on many of the determinants of health and health inequality.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions brings about substantial reductions in cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, stress, road deaths and injuries, and respiratory illness. The health benefits arise because climate change policies impact on two of the most important determinants of health: human nutrition and human movement.
The fair distribution of health, well-being and sustainability are important social goals. Tackling social inequalities in health and tackling climate change must go together. As such, key actions for NHS Somerset’s Public Health Directorate during 2011/12 will include the further integration of the principals of sustainable development and public health.
NHS Somerset ensures that:
The impact of any development on the ecology of the site is minimised and wherever practical, opportunities for enhancement pursued
There is provision for the better protection and management of sites on the estate important for biodiversity
Adverse effects on biodiversity from necessary operations are avoided, minimised, mitigated, and compensated
Key staff are aware of their responsibilities towards protecting and enhancing biodiversity NHS Forest
The NHS Forest is an exciting new national project coordinated by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. The project aims to:
Improving health of staff, patients and communities through use of green space. Largely due to increasing access to green space on or near to NHS land
Greening the NHS Estates and planting 1 tree per employee. Amounting to 1.3 million trees within the next 5 years
Encouraging greater social cohesion between the NHS Estates and the local community
Encourage the NHS to ensure environmental benefits of their estates to include reducing the NHS’ carbon footprint through offsetting from the 1.3 million trees planted
Bringing together a range of highly skilled professionals to produce woodland that includes the use of art, food crops and mapping
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is working with the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust, NHS Trusts, Natural England, the Sustainable Development Unit and others to identify land where trees could grow. The NHS Forest is currently in the pilot phase of the project with up to 10 sites in England being involved.
The NHS Forest will connect staff with a very visible project to introduce the broader issues of sustainability. It will also link both staff and patients with their local green space providing physical benefits and a symbolic connection with the wider environment.