A GP practice in York has been recognised as one of the top twenty in England for its commitment to environmental sustainability by achieving silver standard in the Green Impact for Health project.
Old School Medical Practice received the award, issued by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the National Union of Students, by starting initiatives that make progress towards a greener and better primary care.
In a typical GP practice, clinical work is the greatest contributor to its carbon footprint, with prescribing accounting for 60%, along with staff and patient transport. The steps taken by Old School Medical Practice has lowered its carbon footprint by reducing medicines waste, improving recycling and switching to eco-friendly cleaning products.
The impact of a sustainable general practice benefits the environment and is also a positive change for patients. Practices that are committed to sustainability are more likely to save money, which can then be used to retain staff, and can create a sense of community through combatting climate change.
Dr Rumina Önaç, a GP at Old School Medical Practice and lead for the Green Impact for Health project, said: “We are really proud to have achieved the silver standard. There are about 7,000 GP practices in England, but just 13 have been awarded silver and only 7 have achieved gold in the past 18 months, so it’s a big accomplishment.
“Our green initiatives have allowed us to work with the community in so many ways. In the past year we have recycled unused medical equipment to give it a second life, the practice registered as a water refill station that patients and passers-by can access, and we have worked hard to cut down on the plastic-based products we use.”
By taking proactive steps towards becoming a greener surgery, Old School Medical Practice is one of eighteen local surgeries that have committed to reducing their carbon footprint, with work currently underway to create a green plan for local primary care services across the Vale of York.
The NHS was the first health care system in the world to commit to delivering a net zero national health system. To achieve this, the NHS has set the target of reducing its carbon footprint to net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction in the next decade.
The Green Impact for Health project started in 2014 as a collaboration between the Royal College of General Practitioners, Health Education England, the University of Bristol, and the National Union of Students.
Over 900 GP practices from across England currently take part in the project, supporting and collaborating with one another to learn what projects have worked well nationally and locally. The most successful practices are recognised with gold, silver or bronze awards.