10 October 2023 | Hybrid
BMA House, London
Delivering greener care for a healthier future

Greening the gaze

In this episode we’ll discuss that first radicalising moment. That moment where you start to see all the things you can do to make healthcare more sustainable and how it is hard to un-see that. For everyone, that moment may come from a different place, or different perspective.

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It's all about working together

Healthcare is a complex system, and if we want to make changes such as those needed for sustainable healthcare, we need to work across multiple teams, and make sure we hear everyone’s voice, including our patients’. In this episode we’ll discuss how we can communicate and work with those different groups, and some novel ways of getting the message across from T-rexes worth of plastic gloves to art made out of surgical waste.

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Sustainable healthcare is good for staff

In a system where healthcare workers are continually described as overworked and burnt out, how can we expect them to find the time to act on the climate? In this episode we turn that assumption on its head, and, in fact, show how acting to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare can help staff find joy in their work again. Our two guests today are Tracy Lyons, founder of Pharmacy Declares and medicines optimisation pharmacist in Dorset, UK, and David Smith, general surgeon at North York General Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

The very worst thing is sometimes to have a problem you feel you can’t solve, and action mitigates anxiety: these are two of the many lessons that came out of today’s episode. We also touch on the different levels that you can start to take action at: from the small and tangible to influencing change at a system level.

Sustainable healthcare is better for patients

Acting on climate change is often framed as having to give stuff up, to cost more money, to make sacrifices. Yet in healthcare we find the opposite can often be true: there are many actions we can take which reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare which actually end up with better outcomes for our patients. In this episode, we hear from two examples of that.

Singing for breathing is a type of social prescribing to help people with chronic lung disease manage their breathlessness, reducing their need to be reliant on healthcare to do this, while also finding joy and a sense of community. Stephen is one patient who has benefited from this service, and will tell us more about the impact it had on his life.

In another example, Lynn Riddell, an HIV consultant will tell us how a change in their clinical pathway helped a cohort of patients reduce the amount of travelling to and from the clinic, still manage their condition safely and give them back precious time and control.

Why doing less can be hard

One element of sustainable healthcare is simply reducing the amount of healthcare you’re doing by not doing the things that are of no value to patients. However, how do we do this in practice? And why is it often so hard? What is the role of fear in this discussion? These are all questions we will discuss in this episode.


To help us with this we’ll be joined by Prof Ben Newell (cognitive psychologist from University of New South Wales, whose research interest includes judgement and decision making). and Dr Lucas Chartier,  emergency medicine physician at the University Health Network in Toronto.

Ben Newell also has also recently released a book, Open Minded, co-authored with David Shanks on the role of the unconscious mind in our decisions making