In the wake of COP26, Craig Boggon says it is time for physio staff to make the link between their work, health and tackling the climate crisis
How many of you have driven to work or for groceries today? How long was that journey, less than a few miles? Do you know anyone on your street with lung diseases? Any idea what the quality of air is like around you?
Physios and other allied health professionals are crucial in educating, encouraging and setting examples for physical activity and climate health. How many of you are willing to discuss the links between unhealthy lifestyles, including lack of exercise, and humanity’s impact on this planet?
Over 30 HCPs cycled from London to Glasgow for the opening of COP26
Over 30 health care professionals – including me – cycled from London to Glasgow for the opening of COP26 climate summit. I was on a cargo bike, and took part because I enjoy cycling and to raise awareness of different bikes. I also see cycling as a key public health strategy to encourage physical, social and mental wellbeing to keep people healthy and ultimately away from hospital. Widely, actions like this contribute to protecting the planet.
We must engage as health care professionals. Join initiatives within your trust if you can, with Greener NHS, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare or MedAct.
My own trust, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NUTH) NHS Trust, was the first to declare a climate emergency and announce its net zero strategy. As part of that, they have recruited over 200 green champions and created an app to engage staff and boost positive actions. Additionally, NUTH have ring-fenced £50,000 for a climate emergency action fund which has helped rent e-bikes for the paediatric community department as well as training 10 members of staff to be green ambassadors, including me.
Physios and other AHPs are crucial in educating, encouraging and setting examples for physical activity and climate health.
More broadly, we can and should use our voices to speak to local councillors about evidence-based improvements to local infrastructure for active transport and to improve air quality for children and young people. Ultimately, these actions can improve health and help tackle climate change.
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