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Independents' Day

BMA sets out plan for general practice to become carbon neutral in 10 years

The BMA has charted its plans for general practice to be carbon neutral within 10 years’ time.

The GP Committee paper, devised in line with policy from last year’s Annual Representative Meeting, claims that the benefits of reducing practices’ carbon footprint may include improved patient health; reduced workload; and saved costs.

It estimates that between 65% and 90% of the carbon footprint in GP practices is associated with pharmaceutical prescribing, with electrical equipment; medical supplies; paper towels and printing also contributing. 

Identifying ‘added pressures on the health service and the ever-increasing carbon footprint on the planet’, the BMA stresses that it is ‘imperative’ that the profession becomes more environmentally-friendly and sustainable. As a result, it has highlighted six priorities for the Government to employ whilst supporting the cause.

These are:

  • Green Impact for Health - a toolkit that supports practices to make environmentally responsible changes
  • Prescribing - labelling; inhalers; over-prescribing and waste; deprescribing
  • Social prescribing
  • Equipment
  • Remote consultations
  • Infrastructure and premises

GPC England is now calling on the Government and NHS England/NHS Improvement to take immediate steps to support its ten-point plan. 

This includes developing and encouraging uptake of carbon literacy training modules; the pharmaceutical industry developing an independently validated methodology to assess the total environmental impact of all medications; and all medications clearly displaying their carbon footprint.

Also counted are a nationwide medication returns and recycling scheme; IT system providers to incorporate validated deprescribing tools into the GP operating system; social prescribing to be considered a default option for management plans and for these to be incorporated fully into GP IT systems; and support and resources for GP practices to return to reusable medical equipment safely.

It aims for investment in infrastructure and premises to make the general practice estate carbon neutral by no later than 1 January 2030.

The GPC report said: ‘Reducing the carbon footprint of practices will not only mitigate climate change, it can potentially improve patient health, reduce workload and save money. Inactivity and obesity-related conditions can be tackled by promoting active travel which can also reduce harm caused by air pollution.

‘Reducing inappropriate prescribing and switching to low carbon alternatives can also reduce harm and improve health.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • ‘The BMA has charted its plans for general practice to be carbon neutral within 10 years’ time.’
    Well it’s probably heading that way anyway!

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  • Toptastic! Am I getting a Tesla?

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  • No GP Services=carbon neutral nothing in nothing out.Well done BMA is this code for the destruction of general practice you have colluded in?

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  • Another stick to beat GPs with, helpfully provided by our alleged Union.

    Please, if you are a member just stop paying them; don't you have enough problems already without the BMA making things worse?

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  • FFS, most significant pandemic for a century and it’s vital to plan to be carbon neutral in the future, you couldn’t make it up.

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  • .@.Honest from Yorkshire. Right on the money. Financial depression, biggest acute pressure on NHS since 1948, 10 million on waiting list by Xmas, (yes, we'll be patching up / ReSPECT forming these for poor old secondary care) trying to reboot structured chronic care at the surgery without any guidance or senior leadership from the profession. Sure, the DHSC is really interested in "carbon neutral General Practice" I agree that the death of General Practice would achieve this but then the methane from a rotting corpse is much worse for climate change anyway. Hmmm!

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  • Let common sense prevail

    I'm so glad to see my annual subscription spent in this way, rather than frittered on frivolous issues like GPs pay and conditions. At least when I retire I will know that I have saved the planet.

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  • You can't recycle a plastic speculum, otoscope/thermometer tip or latex glove/apron. A single use chirard. Think of that first?

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  • Is this a joke? Pensions stolen - nothing, PCN DES - nothing, CQC and GMC driving Drs to retirement or worse - nothing, Secondary care dumping - nothing, carbon neutral - yep, that's the one.

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  • we will be completely neutral in 10 years as by then we will have all left due to bankruptcy. not sure what the issue is. unless you mean the private sector as well.

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