DoH challenged to help GPs go green

The DoH is failing to create incentives for practices to become more environmentally friendly, GP leaders say.

Inadequate premises funding and a lack of financial incentives to cut carbon emissions mean that most practices cannot
go green, they say.

Most practices would like to become more environmentally friendly, but few currently are, a GP survey has found (GP, 23 February).

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The lack of any funding at all for premises is a concern. Helping practices that want to develop a greener environment is something the DoH could do, but there is no sign of any desire for this.’

He said the DoH could provide grants or create tax incentives for projects that would help cut emissions, such as installing wind turbines or solar panels.

Devon GP and NHS Alliance contract lead Dr David Jenner said: ‘The only colours the DoH and primary care organisations understand are red and black — they are only interested in finance.’

Dr Jenner agreed that premises were key. He said large numbers of practices are not energy efficient because they are in old premises. He also said GP practices would respond if there were genuine incentives.

‘As small businesses, GP practices are very sensitive to cost pressures. The best way to help them go green is through tax benefits,’ he said.

East Leeds PCT executive committee chairwoman Dr Helen Alpin said there were ‘no incentives whatsoever for GP practices to go green’. She agreed that finance was likely to provide the strongest motivation. ‘GPs often have to use their cars to go on home visits, and this is particularly the case in rural areas where distances are greater,’ she said.

‘Incentives to use greener vehicles could be helpful, and linking cost savings to better waste disposal practices.’

Both Dr Jenner and Dr Alpin pointed out that the EU rules on sterilisation had forced many GPs to switch over to using single-use medical instruments (GP, 23 February).

‘This is terribly ungreen, but it now costs more to re-use instruments,’ Dr Jenner said.

A DoH spokesman said guidance on assessing practices’ environmental impact was available through PCTs.

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