Greener Practice

At Birchwood we recognise the impact of all areas of our work on the health of our planet, as well as on our patients. We are pleased to announce we will be signing up to up to the Green Impact For Health Toolkit when it is relaunched in early 2023, which will help us move our practice into being more environmentally friendly, reducing our carbon emissions and plastic waste, helping us to care better for both people and the planet at the same time.

The toolkit aims to help General Practices make better decisions in this climate and ecological emergency. The NHS is responsible for 4-5% of the UK’s carbon footprint.

The majority of General Practice’s carbon footprint comes from prescribing. The clinical actions that reduce our carbon footprint are aligned with our existing health priorities and evidence-based, person-centred practice. This BMJ article outlines Six steps to both greener and better primary care. We can significantly reduce our carbon footprint by supporting health and wellbeing (e.g. nature-based interventions, social prescribing, de-prescribing where appropriate and low-carbon prescribing). Person-centred medicine, which works in collaboration with patients on what matters to them, is likely to lead to improved patient empowerment and self-care. Greener practice can deliver win-win solutions for patients and the planet. To learn more, visit the BMJ’s page here.

What We’re Doing to Help

We are undertaking projects to improve the Practice’s sustainability.

Projects we have completed so far:

  • Introduced recycling scheme(s).
  • Switching to greener prescribing including changing inhalers.
  • Minimising the amount of paper letters we send, instead using phone calls, texts or emails.
  • Promoting patient and staff health and wellbeing as a Parkrun Practice and nature walks through Wellbeing for Health
  • Promoting and using Fairtrade products wherever possible for staff

Projects we’re working on:

  • Signing up to the Green impact for Health Toolkit in 2023 when it is relaunched
  • Looking at all the outdoor activities that patients can get involved with in the area – parks, community gardening groups, park runs, walking trails etc, and assisting patients in utilising them through our social prescribing team members
  • Calculating the carbon footprint of our organisation and then developing a detailed plan of how we can reach Net Zero.
  • We have 2 internal campaigns we are continually working on for reduction in energy wastage
    • Stop, Think – B4 Copy and Print
      • Staff will utilise other methods where possible to provide resource to patients or scan documents instead of printing
    • Hot and Light? Off for the Night
      • If something is giving off heat/light – it must be turned off for the night e.g. monitors, electric heaters, air conditioning, lighting

What you can do to Help

We’ve put together a list of a few things you can do to help the planet and our Greener Practice project. A lot of the information here, and more, can be found at Greener Practice – For Patients.

To Help our Project you can:

  • Discuss which inhaler you’re using with your GP, nurse or Pharmacist to see if a more environmentally friendly inhaler is suitable.
  • Recycle any used inhalers at your local pharmacy.
  • Make sure your chronic disease-control is as good as it can be- your GP can help you with this.
  • Talk to your GP about any medication you’re not using.
  • Keep yourself fit, active and healthy! There are excellent local resources here


To Help the Planet Some More, you can:

  • Switch your search engines to Ecosia (Ecosia – the search engine that plants trees) which plant trees when you use their search engine.
  • Try to reduce your meat intake- This helps your health and the planet’s health!
  • Use public transport, walk, or cycle to work whenever you can.
  • Work out your carbon footprint: WWF- Your Footprint