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Working towards a more sustainable NHS: Exploring the role of GPs through survey and interviews

Noonan, Adam James


Adam James Noonan


This study examined how GPs in Wiltshire understood sustainable development and its implications for the NHS, their role as GPs and the factors that influenced their engagement with sustainability through an online survey followed by one to one qualitative interviews. The objectives were to better understand how GPs in Wiltshire understood sustainability, to identify gaps between the literature and GPs and to determine the factors that influenced the engagement of GPs with sustainability.

The NHS has committed to more sustainable practices, setting a target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will require radical change in how healthcare is delivered. Proposals on how to achieve the radical transition to more sustainable NHS are emerging in a developing literature on sustainability, health and healthcare. However there is a knowledge gap as to the extent that the analysis of sustainable development and the NHS and proposals for a more sustainable NHS are shared by a broad section of health professionals.

The findings indicated that research participants had complex and nuanced views towards sustainability and the NHS. Findings suggested broad levels of support for some sustainability, activities such as building the resilience of individuals and local communities alongside reservations about others such as taking environmental impact into account when making clinical decisions. Findings also provide a potential explanation of why this broad support may not motivate change. Interview and survey data that suggested that sustainability was remote or an afterthought provide an indication of the leadership, resources and guidance necessary to change practices. The study contributes new knowledge about how this vital group of health professionals understand and engage with sustainability. The study suggests that sustainability should be communicated in terms of improvement in healthcare and the future viability of the NHS alongside clear commitments to sustainability in terms of leadership, strategic integration and organisational incentives.


Noonan, A. J. (2017). Working towards a more sustainable NHS: Exploring the role of GPs through survey and interviews. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Feb 20, 2017
Keywords Sustainable development, health, NHS, GPs, healthcare, sustainability, climate change, qualitative interviews, survey, online, environment


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