Green Health Wales launched in June 2021 in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare as a network of healthcare professionals across the whole of Wales who recognise that the climate and ecological emergency is also a health emergency. This network was set up to connect, learn and transform healthcare services to be climate smart and its vision is of a sustainable healthcare system that protects the health of our population and the planet.
There were plenty of green initiatives and great work being carried out in healthcare departments across Wales, but there was nothing that existed that brought all this work together. Many practitioners were isolated in their efforts, trying to navigate the system, and driving sustainable change alone or in very small groups. Often, they were not supported and unable to get the information or resources they needed easily. So, a group of these practitioners came together and formed Green Health Wales, with Wales’ first Clinical Leadership Fellow in Sustainable Healthcare, Amarantha Fennell-Wells.
Since its launch, more and more people have become involved and Green Health Wales is evolving all the time. I started as Wales’ second Leadership Fellow in Sustainable Healthcare in September 2021 and a lot of the work I carry out is about systems convening – finding out what people are doing and trying to connect their work to help influence the system and supporting efforts to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare in Wales.
We try to spread our knowledge and inspire others working in healthcare to deliver their own transformational projects. We also link the Welsh Government to our colleagues across the NHS in Wales to help advise and shape work and policy on the net zero plan.
In 2019, The Senedd became the first parliament in the world to vote in favour of declaring a climate emergency. As part of the Welsh Government’s Decarbonisation strategic delivery plan there are various initiatives to decarbonise NHS Wales. At Green Health Wales we fully support this work but, for us, sustainable healthcare isn’t just about reducing carbon emissions but is also about addressing other waste streams, such as water and air pollution which contribute to ill health.
We see things very holistically – so we are not just looking at decarbonising but also work on transforming healthcare along the way and increasing sustainable value so that we can provide safe and effective healthcare for the patients of today and of the future.
Green Health Wales has been founded on compassionate leadership principles, which involves listening, understanding, empathising and then, seeking to help people. This can be applied to any sustainable or green network groups, and we firmly believe that collective, collaborative leadership can have a transformative effect in any industry or sector.
Making care more sustainable often relies on people taking on extra work on top of their roles, but by becoming part of a network and part of a solution, it really helps them drive change and boosts morale. Green Health Wales aims to be a supportive platform for people on this journey. We have an e-newsletter and website with case studies so we can share good practice and highlight green projects and ways of working to inspire others.