Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank Report

Monday 30 November 2015

Report from Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals (AHHA) Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank.


The fourth annual Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank was held on 20th November 2015 at Western Health in Footscray, Melbourne. Western Health is the home of Sustainability Officer Cath O'Shea and Dr Forbes McGain who have contributed to the health service's leadership in implementing a comprehensive range of sustainability initiatives across several sites. Western Health is a member of the Pacific Region of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network, a project coordinated in Australia and New Zealand by the Climate and Health Alliance, with the support of Health Care Without Harm.

The Think Tank was attended by over 40 health sector leaders, including health service executives, directors of nursing, professional medical and nursing / midwifery organisations, clinicians, sustainability officers, educators, health union representatives, and operations / facilities managers. A series of inspiring speakers in the morning was followed by an afternoon of stimulating discussion. Sessions and speakers included:

  • Paul Holman from Ambulance Victoria who had a clear message about the health impacts of climate change: heat kills.
  • Jane Carthey, Chair Australian Health Design Council, shared some stories of successes and challenges with regarding to embedding sustainability in healthcare design.
  • Patrick Tobin from Catholic Healthcare talked about the need for leadership from hospital executives.
  • Michele Burton, who is leading a program at Australian Conservation Foundation called Drivers for Sustainability; registered nurse Ros Morgan who is the new Sustainability Officer at Monash Health; nurse academic Patricia Schwertle from Monash University; and anaesthetist and intensive care physician Forbes McGain, ran a session on engaging for behaviour change for sustainability.
  • Peter Sainsbury introduced the session, describing the "roaring success" of experimenting with the workforce at South Western Sydney Local Health District (where he is Director of Population Health) in encouraging innovation and ideas.

Participants were invited to pitch an idea to the group for a workshop, discussion, skill/share that they would offer to lead with a group. Three great pitches saw three energetic discussions convened:

  • Bronwyn Alymer from Barwon Health on reducing waste to landfill (Baron Health have reduced their waste to landfill by almost 40%).
  • Matt Power from St Vincent's Health on cutting energy use (St Vincent's Health Australia) are instituting an energy efficiency plan that will save the organisation millions of dollars annually and avoid the production of million of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
  • Aileen Thoms from Koowerup Regional Health, Libby Muir from Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic branch) and Janet Roden from NSW Nurses and Midwives Association co-convened a group on engaging nurses and midwives in sustainability in healthcare initiatives. Given this huge workforce and multiple examples of leadership from nurses on sustainability initiatives, this discussion sought to explore how more nurses and midwives could be engaged and empowered to take action in their workplaces and communities.

The outcomes from the meeting include:

  • the establishment of a working group on engaging nurses and midwives;
  • ideas for a Webinar on cutting energy use in health services,
  • and the establishment of a ˜googlegroup' for Think Tank attendees (those not already part of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Connect platform) to stay in touch, share resources and ideas, and seek information.

To be part of the #GreenHealth Google group, or to join the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network, please contact Chris Hill, CAHA Sustainable Healthcare Project Officer [email protected] The full report with pictures from CAHA and AHHA Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank can be found here. To see how the day unfolded from the tweets you can see the storify page here.