Plymouth academic contributes to new NHS resource on sustainability

An academic and sustainability champion has contributed to the first NHS resource empowering Allied Health Professionals to embed sustainability into their practice.

Dr Clare Pettinger, Lecturer in Public Health Dietetics at the University of Plymouth, shared her research and practice on sustainable food systems to inform the co-creation of the NHS Greener Allied Health Professional hub.

Allied Health Professionals, or AHPs, comprise of 14 disciplines, ranging from physiotherapists and dietitians, to radiographers and paramedics. As the third largest clinical workforce in the NHS, AHPs are hoped to play an important role in the strategy to deliver a Net Zero NHS.

The hub provides clear actionable steps that AHPs can take to improve their own environmental sustainability. Developed in partnership with a range of different stakeholders, including Greener NHS and the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Sustainability advisory group, it includes ‘what good looks like’ for individual AHPs and their teams, as well as wider examples demonstrating how AHPs can lead this work in their organisations.

The ideas include digital transformation and the application of technology, recycling and repurposing items to reduce waste, and changing diet to incorporate sustainability – as Dr Pettinger explains.


“When it comes to sustainability, it’s easy to think of actions that are too big or too out of our remit to influence,” she said. “But this hub is designed to show AHPs as a whole, and individual disciplines, what we can do within our own practice to help. For example, changing dietary habits to consider the carbon footprint of your food choices is something we could all incorporate into our everyday lives.
“I’m really pleased to have contributed my knowledge and experience to the hub, and look forward to seeing the hub grow, progress and ultimately affect change.”

Dr Pettinger has worked with the British Dietetic Association to co-produce its One Blue Dot campaign, highlighting how dietitians can be leaders in raising awareness of how food and diet contribute to climate change. She is also currently co-leading a UKRI-funded project on the 'Co-production of healthy, sustainable food systems for disadvantaged communities'.

She added: 

“What this work has really highlighted to me is how collaboration is so important. We all have a role to play. Every little effort or change we make individually creates a collective movement for transformational change.”



The launch of the Greener AHP Hub coincides with the ‘One year on’ campaign run by the Greener NHS team, acknowledging and sharing the progress that the NHS has made one year since becoming the world’s first health service to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions, in the lead up to COP26 – the world’s largest climate action conference.

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