The North Coast Primary Health Network’s three Clinical Councils have asked the federally-backed body’s senior management, along with the heads of the region’s two Local Health Districts, to place more emphasis on the “energy and environmental sustainability of health-care-related activity”.
In a recent letter the Hastings Macleay, Mid North Coast and Northern Clinical Councils acknowledged work to date on enacting sound policies – for instance, the Mid North Coast LHD’s Energy & Environmental Sustainability project has included the installation of extensive solar panels at Port Macquarie Base Hospital, saving $1/4m in two years.
However, the Clinical Councils spoke of a “climate emergency” and said they “wish to do more to both support and be supported by our state and federally funded health organisations”.
The aim is to “more effectively reduce the deleterious effects of human activity on the environment upon which we depend for our well-being.”
Adding, “It is now abundantly clear that human activity is having a deleterious effect on the biosphere” – a view yet to be endorsed fully across government – the coalition said, “Health care itself has a significant carbon footprint... The consequent effects on the health of individuals and communities are reinforced physically, emotionally and economically… We would like to be able to make better choices, more easily when it comes to the environmental impacts of our actions.”
On a practical level they noted that, “Hospital avoidance reduces carbon emissions, since hospital and ED stays produce lots of carbon” and advocated an increased use of telehealth by specialist and GP services to reduce transport emissions.
The Councils are in the process of establishing sustainability sub-committees and hope the health-coordination bodies will nominate representatives.