Partnership to host virtual climate change summit

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) will host their first Climate Change Summit to explore how the Partnership can work to reduce the effects of climate change and prepare for its impacts across the area (Bradford district and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield).

Partnership to host virtual climate change summit

Partnership to host virtual climate change summit

The Partnership is made up of a number of organisations who work together to help 2.7 million people in the area including the NHS, councils, Healthwatch, voluntary and community organisations.

WY&H HCP aspires to become a global leader in responding to the climate emergency through increased mitigation, investment and culture change throughout the health and care system. It is one of the big ambitions set out in its ‘Five Year Plan’.

The NHS Sustainable Development Unit has been influencing policy and collecting data for more than 10 years with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare providing practical solutions to clinicians for a similar length of time.

The NHS has made much progress in reducing its carbon emissions, with current emissions thought to be 62% lower than the 1990 baseline. The Greener NHS plan for a Net Zero NHS published on 1 October 2020 sets out the next steps.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority was recently named as a national leader in response to climate change following the declaration of a climate emergency across West Yorkshire.

The event is an ambitious approach for WY&H HCP, taking place entirely online over two days, from the 19 to 20 October 2020.

Hosted by Dr Frank Swinton and Dr Yannish Naik, WY&H HCP Leads for Climate Change, the event will hear from more than 30 system leaders and specialists from across the UK, with over 200 people attending from across the area and wider taking part in workshops.

Each workshop will explore different dimension of the climate change challenge, with the aim of improving shared understanding of the regional ambition to become global leaders in responding to the climate emergency; increasing awareness of key issues related to climate change from a health and social care perspective and making more connections between people who can contribute to delivering that ambition.

Key leaders’ presenting includes Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive at Calderdale Council and Co-chair of WY&H HCP Improving Population Health Programme. Robin led the response to the devastating flooding in Calder Valley in February 2020, and has worked to secure £85m investment into flood resilience. He is the lead Chief Executive for Health and Social Care, and Flooding for West Yorkshire, and co-chair of the West Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum. 

Also amongst the speakers are WY&H HCP CEO Lead, Rob Webster; Rachel Stancliffe, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and a wide variety of leading experts. There will also be a slot by the comedian and environmental economist Dr Matt Winning. Matt brings together comedy and climate news in his podcast ‘Operation Earth’ and has released a TEDx talk discussing the importance of the situation. After huge success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Matt toured the nation with his show; It’s the End of the World As We Know It: a comedy lecture about how we cope with climate change and what we can do about it.

WY&H HCP are determined to be climate leaders in the UK, working together to ensure they contribute to building a better society – reducing inequalities and resolving longstanding social problems during the pandemic. Building a new, healthier, low carbon, better normal in which we can all prosper and thrive.

Rob Webster (CBE), CEO South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and lead CEO for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership said: ‘Responding to the climate emergency is fundamental to all of our futures. We have made good progress in the last few years on issues directly under our control and we recognise there is much to do. We have convened this important event to bring learning from leading figures in climate change so that we can move forward together in a way that will make a real difference to the way people live in our area’.

Robin Tuddenham, CEO for Calderdale Council and Co-Chair of WY&H HCP Improving Population Health Programme said: ‘We know that the effects of climate change are exacerbating the inequalities in our society, and we are already living in a climate emergency where we have to act now. We know that some of what we think of as positive interventions can also have harmful effects, for example, inhalers used for lung conditions can be some of the highest carbon-emitting drugs used in the NHS. We want to learn from the experts and work towards making targeted, cost-effective changes that benefit everyone. This summit will support our impetus to make a change, and strive to take clear and proactive action as health and care leaders’.

Shakkela Ajaib-Latif, Area Coordinator (North and East Youth Service and Voice and Influence Team) for Calderdale Council and member of WY&H HCP BAME network said: ‘Climate change is something that affects us all. While the focus has rightly been on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we do have an ongoing climate emergency that can easily be forgotten as we all focus our minds on coronavirus. This summit is an ideal opportunity for us all to consider how we can work together to reduce our environmental impact as well as considering how climate change could impact on all our lives and those of future generations’.

Alexis Percival, Environmental and Sustainability Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance said: ‘This work is so important in assessing the impact on climate change. As a climate change lead in my organisation, I understand that collaboration from all organisations from the health system to our civic partners to the public is critical in us all eliminating carbon emissions and working to mitigate the impact that we all have on climate change.  Without everyone being involved we can’t work to understand the impact we can have on our communities through the changes we make. We also can’t help to build resilience to the uncertain future that we face and protect the most vulnerable people”.

Dr Honey Smith, Chair of Greener Practice said: ‘The scientific community is almost entirely united in the belief that the climate and ecological crisis constitutes the gravest long-term threat to human health. As doctors we have a duty to protect and promote the health of patients and the public. Healthcare in the UK contributes over 5% of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, so our duty to do no harm dictates that reducing this must be a priority. The NHS has just become the first national health system in the world to commit to net zero emissions, with deliverable milestones. Fortunately the solutions, especially within General Practice, are win-win for patients and planet; including promoting active travel, exercise in nature, planetary health diets, and tighter asthma control. I am thrilled to be a part of this virtual summit, where many of these issues will be discussed in more detail, enabling health care workers to adopt more sustainable practice and changing the culture so that we can live within our planetary boundaries. Together we can make a real difference’.