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Bristol leads on sustainability in healthcare education

Image of the teaching labs in Bristol's Medical School

Press release issued: 29 November 2014

An initiative which aims to introduce teaching about sustainable healthcare into the medical curriculum so that graduates are prepared to contribute to the coming changes in the NHS is reported in The Lancet today.

The Sustainable Healthcare Education network, which involves academics, doctors and medical students from around the UK, plans to train medical students to respond to the health effects of climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

The Lancet report, authored by Dr Trevor Thompson of the University of Bristol and colleagues, sets out the Network’s key achievement to date: the creation of a set of curriculum objectives for sustainability in healthcare.  This was achieved though consultation involving over sixty stakeholder organisations and a national seminar sponsored by Bristol’s Cabot Institute.

The new topics would see medical students learn about how the environment and human health interact and understand how climate change could influence human health in future.

Students would also need to demonstrate the skills required to improve the environmental sustainability of the health sector which has a heavy carbon footprint.  Such skills include recycling and reducing waste and adopting better prescribing practices.

Dr Thompson, Reader in Healthcare Education in Bristol’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and co-author of the book Sustainable Healthcare, has been driving sustainability education at Bristol over the last seven years.  He said: “These learning outcomes give us something really solid and well considered upon which to build exciting new curriculum content.”


‘Learning objectives for sustainable health care’ by Trevor Thompson, Sarah Walpole, Isobel Braithwaite, Alice Inman, Stefi Barna and Frances Mortimer in The Lancet


Further information

About the Cabot Institute

The Cabot Institute carries out fundamental and responsive research on risks and uncertainties in a changing environment.  It drives new research in the interconnected areas of climate change, natural hazards, water and food security, low carbon energy, and future cities.  Its research fuses rigorous statistical and numerical modelling with a deep understanding of social, environmental and engineered systems – past, present and future. It seeks to engage wider society by listening to, exploring with, and challenging its stakeholders to develop a shared response to 21st-Century challenges. 

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