Future watch

Leading the charge towards sustainable healthcare

September 7, 2021

By Helen Dent, Chief Operation Officer, BIVDA

There has never been a more important time to focus on sustainability as a nation and as an industry. The recently released UN climate change report shows we’re at a tipping point in history. But it’s not just carbon emissions that the healthcare industry should be focused on – sustainability needs to be at the core of every decision and strategy in the NHS and our sector as a whole. This can be achieved through process, procurement and innovation.

The NHS aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 on the emissions it controls directly and has set a target of 2045 to be neutral on the emissions it influences. These are ambitious yet important goals, as reducing carbon emissions represents an important step in fighting for a more sustainable future. But across the healthcare industry, there is plenty more that can be done. 

The health of the nation

Moving towards a more sustainable healthcare system in the UK won’t just reduce carbon emissions and help to mitigate the impact of climate change. It will also improve the health of the entire population. The environmental and societal aspects of the world have a direct impact on our health and effect long-term conditions. 

Issues such as the use of plastics, food production and air quality are all inextricably linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, high blood pressure and mental health conditions. As an industry we can lead the way in championing more sustainable, lower-carbon, and zero-waste solutions that will help to prevent these conditions. The diagnostics industry is one of the first ports of call when it comes to dealing with serious diseases. Technological advancements have led the way in detecting these illnesses, now it’s on us to think about how we can operate at a more sustainable level long term. 

This isn’t just about reducing our carbon emissions; this is about truly working sustainably. The entire IVD sector can work together to find more environmentally and health concise ways of working. 

The next steps

The diagnostics industry strives to innovate, finding ways to identify and diagnose some of the world’s deadliest diseases and health conditions. Innovation is our day-to-day and we need to apply that same creativity and drive to working more sustainably. 

While the carbon neutral targets set by the NHS are a great start, we can do more than just responding to a number. Not only should we be leading the way in bringing that 2045 goal much closer, but we should be looking beyond carbon neutrality. 

That’s why this year BIVDA launched a Sustainability Training Program for all of its members. Sustainability is a key issue of operational transformation that the IVD sector must take heed of in light of the NHS Net Zero requirements, our collective corporate social responsibility and the duty we all share to protect the environment. As the trade association for the IVD sector, we’re proud to champion the sustainable charge and help empower and facilitate businesses on their journey towards enhanced sustainability.

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