Health and social care professional standards need to be updated to advance leadership and action for environmental sustainability and planetary health

Ben Whittaker
Ben Whittaker • 19 February 2024


Background Human health is inextricably linked to planetary health. The desire to nurture and protect both concurrently requires the mitigation of healthcare-associated environmental harms and global initiatives that support sustainable lifestyles. Health leadership is important to bring adequate attention and action to address planetary health challenges. Health professionals are central to this endeavour, but the will and energy of a few will not be adequate to address this urgent challenge.

Study We present an appraisal of the current UK health professional standards, frameworks and curricula to identify content related to planetary health and environmental sustainability.

Results No current UK health professional standard provides statements and competencies to guide practising and trainee health professionals to focus on and advance the sustainability agenda within their clinical practice and across wider healthcare systems.

Conclusion Update of health professional standards is needed to ensure that health professionals in every specialty are supported and encouraged to lead the implementation of environmentally sustainable practices within the health sector and advocate for planetary health.

Resource author(s)
Walpole S, Popat A, Blakey EP, Holden E, Whittaker B, Saggu R, Fennell-Wells A, Armit K & Hothi D
Resource publishing organisation(s) or journal
BMJ Leader
Resource publication date
January 2024

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