How to be more sustainable as a healthcare locum?

The healthcare industry is joining in with a worldwide effort to reduce its climate impact, with the NHS recently outlining its green plan, with over 212 trusts across the UK to become the world’s first net zero health service. However, while the policymakers have encouraged this first step towards climate action, nurses, doctors, porters, occupational therapists, and beyond can all get involved in making small changes to reduce their carbon footprint.


As a locum, you may not feel as actively involved in your hospital’s long-term efforts to create a more sustainable environment due to the temporary role. Fortunately, you can still make the simplest of changes, to help. From your commute to your personal use of reusable items. Keep reading to see some of the little changes that you can make in your everyday life.


Caring for the planet is also caring for patients, which is a primary concern for healthcare professionals. When you start a new locum position, have a look around at the hospital department or clinic that you work at and see what could be done to make it more environmentally friendly. This may include the following:


Ensure recycling is accessible

The rates of recycling have increased over the last few years, however, more needs to be done. As clinics and hospitals are extremely busy environments, it can be very easy to throw something in the wrong bin. Ensure that there are recycling bins present not just normal waste bins, each bin is clearly labelled and that they are conveniently located for busy staff. If you see any changes that can be made in terms of recycling, talk to the facilities manager at your workplace and suggest your ideas to them. As a locum, your insight from an outside perspective is very valuable to the hospital/practice and they will welcome any suggestions that they might have missed when it comes to the improvement of patient or staff experience.


Reusable items

Switch to using a reusable bottle instead of plastic bottles or plastic cups and encourage your fellow colleagues to do the same, suggest an incentive for those who bring reusable bottles or coffee cups and use them at the cafes or food vendors at work. Reusable bottles and cups are even made from materials that are better for your health compared to single-use plastic bottles. In the UK, 93% of the 38.5 million single-use plastic bottles that we use every day end up in landfills instead of being recycled.


Walk or cycle to work

Driving or taking public transport increases carbon dioxide emissions, which is not sustainable or environmentally friendly. A recent NHS campaign has been created to encourage the reduction of emissions by promoting walking, cycling, or even carpooling. Fewer carbon emissions mean less patients with asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Click here to download posters with slogans such as ‘reduce emissions, reduce admissions’ or many others and display them in your workplace.


However, you or your colleagues may be put off by the idea of cycling to work due to a lack of facilities. If you notice that your workplace doesn’t have secure bike storage, lockers for helmets and cycling clothes or even showers, ensure to talk to the facilities manager and request these facilities. Remember, cycling is exercise and is very good for your health as well as wellbeing, it could also mean you can have that sweet treat that someone has brought in at work without feeling guilty.