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Healthcare providers need engineers' involvement to achieve net zero objectives

Published: 24/05/2024

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) argues that the NHS needs to make significant investments in sustainable healthcare technologies to decrease emissions and minimise waste. A new report suggests that for engineers to play a crucial role in achieving a net zero health service, the NHS must collaborate more closely with them to address these challenges.

In ‘Transforming Healthcare: The role of engineering to deliver a net zero health service,’ the IMechE explores the healthcare sector’s sustainability challenges, and discusses how engineering is currently, and can further, contribute to the sector's transition to net zero.

In 2020, the NHS implemented a multi-year plan to achieve net zero. The objectives included providing more care at or near patients' homes, reducing waste from single-use products, and ensuring new hospital buildings are constructed with net zero in mind.

Dr Helen Meese, chair of the IMechE’s Biomedical Engineering Division and lead author of the report, said in a statement, "The transition to net zero requires a multi-stakeholder approach, and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare. Engineers have a huge role to play here, not only in designing and implementing sustainable healthcare solutions but also in fostering collaboration across disciplines and industries to ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for all.”

While climate change is recognised as one of the world's greatest global threats, it is thought that a third of heat-related deaths worldwide are attributed to its effects. However, the report states that the healthcare sector is among the largest global emitters. The IMechE therefore emphasises the urgent need to reduce healthcare emissions to combat climate change, improve public health outcomes, and relieve pressures on healthcare systems worldwide.

The IMechE is also calling for major investment in small and medium-sized enterprises to facilitate the adoption of healthcare innovations.

To find out more about the report, please visit the IMechE website.