Student Nurse Advisors

Vikki Stokes
Vikki Stokes

 

“Climate change is the greatest environmental threat humanity has ever faced and its biggest challenge” (Greenpeace, 2013).

The “midwifery role permeates into diverse policy landscape and impacts on the health of the broader population not just women and their babies” (Jokinen, 2016). Healthcare professionals are an integral part of the community and can help support individuals in building knowledge, so people want to live, work and invest there.

Due to the fact that “around one in every 100 tonnes of domestic waste generated in the UK comes from the NHS” (QCR, 2013), a sustainable healthcare system is needed.

We as healthcare professionals are perfectly placed to make a difference to all that surround us. By reducing waste and paying attention to efficient and responsible use of energy, travel, waste, procurement, water, infrastructure adaptation and buildings (SDU 1, 2016) we can help the NHS reach its commitment to “reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2025” (QCR, 2013).

The latest carbon footprint report was published in January 2016, shows the NHS carbon footprint in England has been reduced by 11% compared to figures from 2007 (SDU 2, 2016). Although this demonstrates the NHS is making progress it still has a sizable carbon footprint when compared to other large UK organisations.

Further reductions will only be achieved with individuals, including healthcare professionals, becoming more aware of their impact on climate change and committing to making incremental improvements in their day-to-day activities (such as disposing of waste correctly and using resources more efficiently).

“Climate change is the greatest environmental threat humanity has ever faced and its biggest challenge” (Greenpeace, 2013).

The “midwifery role permeates into diverse policy landscape and impacts on the health of the broader population not just women and their babies” (Jokinen, 2016). Healthcare professionals are an integral part of the community and can help support individuals in building knowledge, so people want to live, work and invest there.

Due to the fact that “around one in every 100 tonnes of domestic waste generated in the UK comes from the NHS” (QCR, 2013), a sustainable healthcare system is needed.

We as healthcare professionals are perfectly placed to make a difference to all that surround us. By reducing waste and paying attention to efficient and responsible use of energy, travel, waste, procurement, water, infrastructure adaptation and buildings (SDU 1, 2016) we can help the NHS reach its commitment to “reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2025” (QCR, 2013).

The latest carbon footprint report was published in January 2016, shows the NHS carbon footprint in England has been reduced by 11% compared to figures from 2007 (SDU 2, 2016). Although this demonstrates the NHS is making progress it still has a sizable carbon footprint when compared to other large UK organisations.

Further reductions will only be achieved with individuals, including healthcare professionals, becoming more aware of their impact on climate change and committing to making incremental improvements in their day-to-day activities (such as disposing of waste correctly and using resources more efficiently).

 

Emma Swanton
Emma Swanton

Why do I think it is important for nurses to know about the effect of their actions on climate change? 

 

It is imperative that nurses know about the effect of their actions on climate change due to the health threats presented on an individual, population and international level by global warming. Climate change affects the social determinants of health that the World Health Organisation (2008) advocates are the underlying causes of health problems and many diseases. For example, Goodman (2013) emphasises the implications of climate change on the social and environmental determinants such as clean air, sufficient food and safe drinking water. Therefore, our patients’ health can be improved by promoting more sustainable and low-carbon actions by nurses. If nurses adapt their work practices to reduce the impact of climate change, they may inadvertently contribute to improving the health of their patients. Furthermore, the advice nurses give to patients can be influential. For example, nurses can encourage patients to eat less meat or walk to work; steps which are beneficial to the environment, and also health. The pressure on the NHS and other health systems around the world is only going to increase. The resources, such as oil, needed to make essential medical equipment are going to become more scarce. Consequently, new ways of working are required. Nurses should comprehend how their actions impact climate change so that they can effectively contribute to the plans that will impact the way they work and the care they give to patients. This may ensure decisions made by leaders do not impact the availability, accessibility, appropriateness, acceptability and quality of patient care.

 

Tracey Mutandwa
Tracey Mutandwa

TITLE: WHY NURSES SHOULD KNOW THE EFFECTS OF THEIR ACTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

A clean environment promotes good health and this was emphasised by the nursing leader, Florence Nightangel in her famous quote,

Keep the air within as pure as the air without.’ (American Nurses Association, 2007)

Nurses are health professionals who are very influential in the society and should be aware of their actions on climate change. Nurses should set a good example both in the society and at clinical level by reducing the amount of their carbon print. A healthy environment with clean air, clean food and clean soils is able to promote good health then there will be less outbreak of diseases in the community. Examples of disasters the occur due to climate change are floods and wild fires and these will put so much pressure on clinical resources. In their nursing role nurses should promote a healthy environment and this will have effect on the populations whose health they are guardians of. Nurses should show reasoning in the use of clinical resources by re using and recycling if possible. There should be justified use of single use clinical material to avoid unnecessary waste. Only when nurses have managed to lead by example in conserving the environment will they then progress by being involved in policy making at local authority level and at national level. Nurses should be educators of communities and this can only happen if they understand the effects of climate change on health.

 

 

Plymouth student advisor
Plymouth student advisor

Why you think it is important for nurses to know about the effect of their actions on climate change?

I believe it is important for nurses to know about the effect of their actions on climate change in order to minimise the negative impact their practice has on the environment and biosphere. When nurses are educated in ways that they can help preserve materials in care settings (such as gloves, bed sheets and plastic items) they are consciously making effort to not consume unnecessary resources. This is important because if all nurses were to do so, there will be less unnecessary waste, of which commonly ends on landfills and environmental settings. Following this, there will also be less fossil fuels emitted via recycling plants and machinery, thus aiding the control of climate change. It is important for all of nurses to monitor and take care of the resources they use in order to have a minimal impact on the already suffering environment and hemisphere.

We now live in a largely consumerist and urban society that devours a lot of natural resources every day. Nurses should strive towards focusing both on sustainability and sustainable development, balancing both developing technology and moving forward economically, with the goals to protect our environment and create as little waste as possible to preserve the environment in which we and others live. With the NHS being such a large organisation and pillar of the United Kingdom, there is much more room for materials to be wasted unnecessarily. It is all our responsibilities to know about the effects of our actions on climate change, and then act on this, making sure we reduce our carbon footprint as much as we can.

Cianne Bridgland 1st year (2014 / 15 February cohort) Adult

‘As student nurses are the future workforce it is extremely important that they understand their effect on the environment not just as an individual but as an organisation and team. Promoting awareness will generate ideas to combat and resolve this fundamental issue which affects everyone in and out of the healthcare system and is everyone’s responsibility’.

Juanita Gill photoJuanita Gill 1st year (2014 / 15) Mental Health

‘..healthcare professionals should be ambassadors and advocates for a cleaner, more conscious, more sustainable way of working. Why is it important for healthcare professionals to understand these issues? Because, quite simply, we may be healing bodies but currently it is at the expense of the planet’s health’.

Gemma Hitchcock 2nd year (2013 / 14 cohort) Adult

‘I believe that the impact nurses have on climate change can be reduced, much of the waste created has been brought about due to convenience, rather than necessity. If change doesn’t happen soon, then ironically, climate change could mean a lack of resources will impact on the care nurses provide’. 

 Abigail McWhinney  2nd year (2013 / 14) Midwifery

‘The NHS is a market leader in setting industry standards. As members of such an organisation, healthcare professionals should be ambassadors and advocates for a cleaner, more conscious, more sustainable way of working. Why is it important for healthcare professionals to understand these issues? Because, quite simply, we may be healing bodies but currently it is at the expense of the planet’s health’.

Martin Mills 1st Year (2014 / 15 Feb cohort) Adult

With healthcare being the largest employer in the UK, the potential effects on the health of patients and staff through promoting sustainable practice is enormous. Wasteful procedures not only waste money and resources but disposal can have huge detrimental effects on everyone, not just in the UK. If students are exposed to sustainability, and can play a part in making changes, before they start their careers then wasteful practices could be resigned to the recycle bin in the near future’.

 Hayley Shields 1st year (2014 / 15 Feb cohort) Adult

 ‘I am so enthusiastic about promoting this to fellow students and the general public, as there is so much we can do and try out to cut back on carbon footprints; the world can be a better place if we look after one another by using more sustainable goods’.

Catherine Smith 1st year (2014 / 15 February cohort) Adult

‘it is imperative that nurses are not only aware of the effect of global warming on their patients so to better treat and plan but to look inwardly at themselves and the care environment as a whole as a contributing factor to global warming and look for ways to negate these factors and create a more sustainable health sector’.

Dawn Tighe 1st year (2014 / 15 September cohort) Adult

‘Personally I have been shocked by the amount of waste created on a daily basis in hospitals, as well as the tendency to allocate waste for incineration when it does not seem necessary. I believe nurses should play a vital role in the move towards sustainable healthcare’.

Zoe Young 

Zoe Young  2nd Year (2013 / 14 cohort) Adult

‘Managing the environment more effectively and investing time and money into sustainability education for nurses will dramatically improve services to patients and help in the fight against disease and global poverty which can only improve patient outcomes and quality of life for all while helping to preserve our precious planet for future generations’. 

 

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Sean Lambert 3rd year (2102 / 13 cohort) Child Health Nursing.

Current practice does turn a blind eye to waste and sustainability yet this topic does impact all of us as individuals, as a profession and both economically and environmentally.  As the next generation of nurses and midwives it is important that we all play our part and convey the ethos of sustainability into our practice. 

 

The issue of sustainability covers so many aspects of life, from our sourcing and consumption of food, clothing and transport to our levels of waste, the size of our families and the political parties we support. So many decisions we make on a day-to-day basis can have knock on effects that we need to consider. Hopefully, as nurses we will be involved in the care of many people. For this reason we need to be fully informed on issues of sustainability and should try to be advocates for a sustainable lifestyle through the way we live and conduct ourselves in our work and private life. While medicine is a crucial part of healthcare, the role of lifestyle and the holistic approach to health is needed for a truly balanced and better life outcome. As a nursing student I would be happy to offer whatever assistance I can in this area and hope you might consider me for any future research.

Patrick Lester 1st Year Adult Nurse

The issue of sustainability covers so many aspects of life, from our sourcing and consumption of food, clothing and transport to our levels of waste, the size of our families and the political parties we support. So many decisions we make on a day-to-day basis can have knock on effects that we need to consider.  

Hopefully, as nurses we will be involved in the care of many people. For this reason we need to be fully informed on issues of sustainability and should try to be advocates for a sustainable lifestyle through the way we live and conduct ourselves in our work and private life. While medicine is a crucial part of healthcare, the role of lifestyle and the holistic approach to health is needed for a truly balanced and better life outcome. 

As a nursing student I would be happy to offer whatever assistance I can in this area and hope you might consider me for any future research.  

heather clifford

Heather Clifford

 

Student Sustainability Rep Adult Nursing September 2015 Cohort

 

I would like to apply for the student sustainability role, please find below my thoughts on why it is important for nurses to know about the effect of their actions on climate change.
Previous to Nursing I did two years of a Zoology course and am a long time activist for humans, animals and the planet. I am also Vegan.

Firstly, it’s important for everyone to know about the way they affect the planet they live on. To be aware of the detrimental effect your everyday life can have on the earth and its inhabitants is the first step towards lessening that effect and therefore creating a world that is habitable for longer.
But I believe it is specifically important to nurses due to the responsibility we hold in general over human health and wellbeing. To be frivolously and ignorantly causing further damage to this planet in turn causes damage to the very things we are sworn to protect.
I also feel that from our place of influence we should be leading by example, not only in promoting a healthy and active lifestyle to our patients and coworkers (which can also be beneficial to the planet) but by educating and involving others in looking after Earth and being responsible for their own effects, rather than the current detached ignorance being upheld by the majority of the general public.
Yes ignorance may be bliss, but turning your back to a fire won’t make it go out.
hazel woods

Hazel Wood  first year Child Health Nursing student.
Nurses are responsible for many things during their career; the health and wellbeing of their patients, communicating efficiently with colleagues and relatives to name but a few. However one area of growing importance is that of sustainability. At home many people will regularly recycle and are conscious of their carbon footprint. This can change once they arrive to the workplace. Whilst working, and especially in hospitals many professionals are under extreme time constraints and often do not have a free moment to consider whether or not the plastic syringe they are using should be disposed of as non-recyclable or recyclable waste.  As well as time pressures there are also infection control issues related to healthcare which need to be look at and respected. Simple measures such as informing nursing staff of which materials can be recycled could drastically reduce the need for incineration, therefore lowering the emission of damaging gases into the atmosphere. This measure could also see a dip in patients being admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties related to pollution. I believe educating nurses on the processes of the production of certain materials they use on a daily basis would make them more aware and think before they use a non-recyclable item; is there a reusable or recyclable option? How many of this item do I need to actually use? With regular training and communication between infection control officials and sustainability officers we can achieve and maintain an outstanding level of sustainability in nursing.
laura Coward

Laura Coward 1rst year Adult Nursing student

 

 

Sustainability is a topic that I feel passionate about. I feel that I could some fresh skills and thinking to the programme. Sustainability of healthcare is important in order to maintain resources for the future to ensure the quality of healthcare is maintained and to protect our planet from contributing carbon dioxide to the enhanced greenhouse effect leading to global warming. As a consequence of this, more extreme weather will occur, increasing the incidence of illness and changing epidemiological patterns. Therefore, the time to act is now.

 

 

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