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Green Impact for Health reaches over 1.7 million with 100 awards given!

Beatrice Anomah
December 20, 2023

We are excited to present the 2023 Green Impact for Health Awards!

This year, 832 GP Practices registered to take part in the RCGP Green Impact for Health programme in order to take positive action, improve their sustainability, and encourage behaviour change within their practice in response to the climate and ecological crisis in recognition that healthcare is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Over 100 practices achieved an award level this year ranging from Pioneer to Platinum with many others working towards an award level for 2024 instead!

What is Green Impact for Health?

The RCGP Green Impact for Health programme is a sustainability learning and awards scheme, designed to provide practical advice and tips to general practices across the UK, that want to improve their sustainability and social responsibility through a number of actions contained within a toolkit. It is delivered by Students Organising for Sustainability(SOS-UK – a registered charity) and general practice volunteers, led by Dr Terry Kemple, and funded by the Royal College of General Practitioners. Green Impact for Health is one of our many successful Green Impact programmes, which run in a variety of sectors and settings across the UK and internationally.

The climate and ecological crises pose a major threat to healthcare, human health and wellbeing therefore the intersectionality between sustainability and health must be recognised. The free Green Impact toolkit helps General Practices in the UK to understand what they can do and to make better decisions in this current climate and ecological emergency and inspires behavioural change within practices through a well-structured and supportive programme. The toolkit gives reasons for each suggested action, as well as tips on how to make the changes and ensures all actions are effective, engaging, easily-accessible, impactful, and relevant.

The NHS is responsible for 4-5% of the UK’s carbon footprint however about 40 per cent of this comes from non-clinical activities, therefore the toolkit is a key resource for helping general practice reduce harmful impacts on planetary health, adapt to the risks of climate change, reduce practice expenses and work towards a low carbon and sustainable healthcare system.

Since Green Impact for Health started in 2014, we have seen over 1500 practices take part, and over 30,000 positive sustainability actions taken by practice teams with fantastic engagement from various healthcare staff.

In October 2020, the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero, and in 2022 became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. General Practices play a strong role in ensuring the realisation of the ambitious net zero national healthcare targets.

2023 Programme Impact

Currently, there are 832 practice teams registered on the Toolkit with over 1813 team members, and a potential to reach 6,245,721 patients. Together, these practices have completed over 8000 actions this year. Following the 2023 Autumn Award submission deadline, we trained 59 student auditors to complete the practice submission auditing process and verify the actions and evidence practice teams submitted. This greatly added to the social value and impact of the programme, and provided many students with a unique training and development opportunity to learn how to conduct environmental audits, and provided them a chance to understand sustainability in practice and engage with this through an IEMA approved training programme.

Here’s what some of our Green Impact for Health Auditors had to say :

“I think Green Impact are doing incredible work and I have felt really fortunate and empowered after speaking to people who are taking real steps towards greener practice. I loved being involved and talking to people that are having a real impact on changes to clinical practice. It has inspired me to get involved!”

“Looking into the pieces of evidence shared was an exciting and eye-opening experience, thank you for the opportunity given to me to work as an auditor for Green Impact.”

“The finest way to forecast the future is to prepare for it, keep up the good work.”

Consequently, we conferred 39 Bronze awards, 32 Silver awards, 17 Gold awards, and 4 Platinum awards. Many practices also received a Pioneer recognition award. Together, these practices reached 1,726,178 patients with their sustainability actions!

Massive congratulations to all practices for their hard work throughout 2023 and thank you for taking part in Green Impact and contributing to a more just, equitable, and sustainable healthcare system. As GPs are often at the centre of their local community, it’s exceptionally important that they champion important sustainability and social justice issues and provide more sustainable and just care for their patients and the local community.

Toolkit Overview

The toolkit actions are well aligned with the UN SDGs to show their meaningful contribution to global sustainability efforts and the 125 actions focus on many areas and themes within sustainability such as Food and Drink, Governance, Learning, News and Communications, Prescribing, Social Prescribing, Travel and Exercise, Waste and Recycling, Water, Energy etc and highlights Carbon, Energy and Cost saving hotspots. There is also a bit of healthy competition encouraged with the ‘Top ten teams’ leader board display  

What are the benefits for general practices?

 The Toolkit provides numerous benefits to practices such as:

  • Increased environmental sustainability
  • Cost Savings
  • Improved staff morale, earning, and efficiency
  • Contributing meaningfully towards the NHS Greener plan and regional ICB plans
  • Supporting the RCGP Net Zero Action Plan
  • Enabling practices to deliver more sustainable quality healthcare to patients


There is also ongoing support provided to registered practices throughout the year via SOS-UK Green Impact for Health monthly newsletters and a ‘Green Impact Interactive Webinar Series’ that covers a range of sustainability topics and enables participants to learn, share ideas and network. 2023 also saw the launch of our nationwide programme for dental practices, which was inspired by Green Impact for Health and hopes to mirror its success in the dental sector.

Get Involved

The Green Impact model has been used in healthcare since 2011, and since then has been supporting teams of healthcare staff to learn and lead for sustainability in their area of work. To get involved in 2024, and for more information about the Green Impact for Health Programme, please get in touch with giforhealth@sos-uk.org.