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Sustainable, Resilient, Healthy People & Places

A Sustainable Development Strategy for the NHS, Public Health and Social Care system

The purpose of the health and care system is to continually improve health and wellbeing and deliver high quality care when necessary.

The challenge is how to do this now and for future generations within available financial, social and environmental resources. Understanding these challenges and developing plans to achieve improved health and wellbeing and continued delivery of high quality care is the essence of sustainable development.

Current discussions, including the NHS Call to Action1, are exploring how to achieve the best possible health and care outcomes within the financial resources available. As these discussions continue, it is equally important that we factor in:

• The environmental impact of the health and care system and the potential health co-benefits of minimising this impact
• How the health and care system needs to adapt and react to climate change, including preparing and responding to extreme events
• How the NHS, public health and social care system maximises every opportunity to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability.

This strategy outlines a vision and three goals based on the challenges outlined above to aim for by 2020. It describes the opportunities to reduce our environmental impacts, improve our natural environment, increase readiness for changing times and climates and strengthen social cohesion. It also explores how this can be taken forward as a system and outlines specific areas of focus that can be used to guide action.

The vision and goals have been developed following an extensive consultation and engagement process with almost 1,000 responses covering all parts of the system. Engagement with the public also demonstrated there is an expectation that sustainable development should be part of the way the health and care system works in the future. The development of the strategy has also greatly benefitted from the advice and assistance of the Department of Health, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC).

This strategy is intended to complement the discussions taking place across the NHS, public health and social care about future approaches to improving health and more integrated models of care.