Intended for healthcare professionals

Opinion

A strategy for NHS Scotland focused on reducing emissions and enhancing wellbeing

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2905 (Published 24 November 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2905
  1. Elaine Mulcahy, director1
  1. 1UK Health Alliance on Climate Change

In 2019, the Scottish Government announced its ambition for NHS Scotland to become net-zero by 2045. After much anticipation in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, the NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy was published on 10 November 2021 and opened for consultation until February 2022.1

The strategy raises the bar on the initial target by bringing forward the date for achieving net-zero emissions to 2040. Fundamental to the goal of reducing emissions is an ambition to do this is in a way that enhances wellbeing and reduces health inequalities: “A health service that improves the opportunities, life chances, health and wellbeing of every citizen in our country and fully contributes to a more cohesive, resilient and net-zero society in a just way that contributes of population wellbeing and a reduction in health inequalities.”

Achieving such an ambitious aim will require commitment across all elements of the health service, including the people it serves. Significant progress in reducing emissions will be made through a shift from fossil fuels to renewables, and improving infrastructure and facilities to make them more energy efficient. The expectations of the healthcare workforce, patients, and visitors of the way in which the service operates will also need to adjust to enable the transformation to more sustainable …

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