A Toolkit to Enable General Practice to Act and Lead in Planetary Health

Sean Owens, Aoife Benton, John Allman, John Cox, Andree Rochfort

Keywords: Planetary health, climate, sustainability

Introduction:
Climate change has been described as the biggest health concern of the 21st century. 4% of Irelands emissions come from healthcare. GPs have a unique role as a gatekeeper for tests, investigations and medications. GPs and nurses are well-respected professionals widely dispersed within communities. The Sustainability Working Group in the Irish College General Practitioners created a Planetary Health Infographic and Toolkit (PHIT) to motivate all clinicians in primary care to consider their options for improving the environmental sustainability of their healthcare activities.

Method:
A Planetary Health infographic was created to simplify the message into practical domains. The toolkit aimed to expand in more detail on how to do this. Each domain of the infographic was broken down into evidence-based actionable tasks, tips and audit examples that practices could adopt depending on their level of interest and availability.

Results:
The toolkit was divided into the same domains as the infographic as follows; prescribing, inhalers, antibiotics, diet, lifestyle, green/social prescribing,
energy, waste, e-communications and resources. An example audit included a single rural practice changing inhalers to more sustainable alternatives over 6 months, saving 21,000 kg of carbon.

Conclusions:
The climate crisis is simultaneously the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. This toolkit aims to improve patient health, reduce resource use and to find a new purpose for general practice, by becoming ambassadors in their communities for climate change. The PHIT aims to demonstrate how primary healthcare can improve patient health while reducing resource use. The secondary aim is to increase job satisfaction among GPs, Nurses and the practice team.

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