I knew I needed to take action when in February last year I asked some friends if they knew how much CO2 was in the air. They didn’t. “400ppm. And when was the last time in human history it was this high? Never.”
We were all astonished.
Then in April Newcastle City Council declared a climate emergency. I decided to see what the organisations I am a member of were doing; the GMC, defence union, the BMA, the College, my employer. I searched all the websites for sustainability.
On our Trust’s intranet I discovered there was a sustainability policy, written by our Sustainability Officer (SO) and linking to a Sustainable Development Management Plan (SDMP). This said our target to reduce CO2 was 34% by 2020. It seemed a good opportunity to ask how we were doing. I wrote to our sustainability officer copying in the Chief Executive.
The reply was full and positive. The SO said we are “on track to meet 2020 targets but know we need to do more” and they were interested in any ideas I had. It felt good to know there were people working on this in our Trust.
It seems I wasn’t the only one asking. A number of other staff had too including from psychology, OT, pharmacy, and managers. We were contacted by our Chief Executive and a deputy director and invited to come along to an executive meeting and possibly do a presentation. Our group formed around this and became the beginnings of ‘CNTWClimateHealth’.
We presented in June and it went well. It helped that we had a team of five presenters from a wide range of disciplines. The executives agreed to begin staff engagement, to set up an organisational structure and for further discussions at the Trust Board.
Since then we have begun a conversation with our 7000 staff through the Trust Bulletin. We have a dedicated email address and now a Twitter account. We have a new steering group, an operational committee and several project subgroups, embedded within our organisational structure. We are working on a vision and statement of intent that our board can sign up to.
Over these few months I have met a number of interested and motivated people albeit with different views and experiences. We’ve found having similarly minded people vital for support, motivation and translating thoughts into action. That just sending a chance email can lead to the coming together of a group like ours. I’m very grateful to our senior management for how responsive they have been.
We know there are many doctors who want to do more and hope our story will help to spread positive action in other Trusts.