Sustainability in Physiotherapy #physiotalk 10th May

The next #physiotalk tweetchat is on Monday 10th May at 8pm BST and is guest hosted by @PhysioSusNet: The Physio Sustainability Network is for those interested in sustainability & reducing the physiotherapy carbon footprint.

The scale of the problem

The World Health Organization has described climate change as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century” and estimates that air pollution – primarily from burning fossil fuels – already kills 7 million people prematurely per year worldwide.

The Kings Fund reported in 2012 that Carbon Dioxide emissions attributable to the NHS in England alone are greater than the total emissions from all passenger aircraft departing from Heathrow Airport. That is a shocking fact and hardly likely to have changed much in the intervening years (apart from the last year of course).

We are all aware of a growing need to be more environmentally aware and the impact of climate change is becoming ever more real and probably closer to home as well. As COP26 (or the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties to be held in Glasgow in November) gets closer, the need to consider the climate change and sustainability agenda in health care becomes increasingly important.

One of the COP26 initiatives is a ‘Race to Zero’ – an initiative to commit businesses to net zero emissions by 2050. Is that possible for the NHS? Well the ‘Greener NHS’ initiative is working towards a net zero emissions with two main targets

  • For the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), we will reach net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032;
  • For the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), we will reach net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039

If these are met this should mean that the NHS in England is on target to meet the COP26 initiative and was the first national health system to make this type of commitment.

Ecology Ecological Heart - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

But what about me?

Often it feels like the figures above are just too large to comprehend and individuals wonder if any change they make could ever make a difference. And the answer is – of course they can! The power of the individual is huge and when we all combine then small changes can make a significant difference. And there are groups joining together to start to make this change within physiotherapy.

The hosts for this chat are the Physiotherapy Sustainability network, a group of clinicians, researchers, educators and students interested in reducing the carbon footprint of physiotherapy, and harnessing services to reach a ‘net zero carbon’ health service.   They are a network of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. They are working in collaboration with the Environmental Physiotherapy Association who are the first international collaborative network of academics, clinicians, practitioners, researchers, and students interested in exploring and advancing the field of environmental physiotherapy.

Chat questions

What part of your practice makes the most impact on the global environment?

The NHS has pledged to be Net Zero carbon emissions by 2045. How do physiotherapists fit into this national ambition?

Have you considered the environmental impact of your practice?

Are you aware of any initiatives to improve the sustainability of your practice?

What changes could you make tomorrow to make your practice more sustainable?


Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Sustainability 1: can nurses reduce the environmental impact of healthcare?

Environmental Physiotherapy podcast from the InBeta Unconference

Environmental Physiotherapy Association resources page


If you missed the chat -then catch up with the transcript here

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