Environmentally sustainable health and social care: scoping review

Document type
Naylor, Chris; Appleby, John
NIHR Health Services Research and Delivery Programme
Date of publication
1 March 2012
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services, Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This scoping review outlines a co-ordinated approach towards future research in the area of sustainable health and social care, with a view to creating an evidence base which supports the health and social care sector in adopting more environmentally sustainable approaches. It describes the existing research in this area and places environmental sustainability within the context of the financial challenges facing the health and social care system. Specific objectives were: to map the existing evidence base on environmental sustainability in health and social care; to identify what research will be needed to support a more environmentally sustainable approach towards health and social care, and to develop a framework to coordinate future research; and, to explore and highlight the connections between environmental sustainability and the productivity agenda.

The report finds that there appears to be a reasonably high strategic commitment to sustainability within many health and social care organisations but there is wide variation, and less consistent evidence of strategy being translated into tangible action. Nonetheless, there are numerous cases of local projects within both health and social care where structural, operational or clinical changes have been made that have reduced environmental impacts. In many cases there is evidence that financial and other benefits have been achieved as well although robust evaluation of these effects is often lacking.

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