Back in 2010, whilst at UCHL, Trevor Payne had a vision to change the way the NHS engaged and took action on climate change. He saw that there was a need to support the delivery of the national strategies to reduce carbon, by empowering staff to take practical action to make local improvements. Pitching the idea to the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) and local medical champions, Trevor was quick to gain support for what would be the first ever NHS Sustainability Day.

In the first year, Trevor took personal responsibility for creating materials, spreading the word across the NHS and drawing together networks of like-minded people and best practice sharing through a micro site. Through his professional network of Estates and Facilities directors Trevor mobilised local action through 30 trusts across the country.

The day was then, and every year since, been funded on passion, drive and determination and has been delivered at no cost to the NHS. Speaking of the journey he has been on, Trevor said;

“creating NHS Sustainability day has been a personal labour of love but I could not have done it without the support of everyone who has been involved along the way; from those who offered their financial support, the technical expertise of those who helped build the platforms and materials, the brave souls who introduced me to social media (!), to the local people who took action, and continue to take action every year.  Its success is a testament to the drive, passion and determination of the great people who work in the NHS, and I would like to thank each and every one of them”

Moving to Barts Health Trevor joined forces with his Sustainability lead, Fiona Daly, to expand the idea, increasing the impact and reach of the day. Together over the last three years they have developed the event to be what is now –  a nationally recognised day for action on climate change, engaging everyone across the NHS and social care systems. The day crosses boundaries to engage local authorities, commissioners, local charities and brings together ministerial backing to support local leaders to create a groundswell of action, debate and best practice sharing and recognition through their annual awards.

2012 saw the launch of the first NHS Sustainability Day awards, designed to recognise those individuals and organisations that were driving the change. This year, we had over 102 entries for the awards – each and every one of them a demonstration of the commitment and extent of action happening across the NHS.

The development of the road shows in the 2013 campaign allowed the impact and reach of the day to be taken to six regions nationally [each year] engaging a wide variety of stakeholders, helping to develop and nurture local networks and create on-going support systems for sustainability champions across the country.

In 2013 Barts Health engaged social enterprise 4 all of us to help extend the reach and to focus on the social value delivered by the day. The partnership was solidified in 2014 with a three year commitment to working together to deliver action and change across the health and social care system in the UK.

Speaking of the progress and future for Sustainability Day Fiona said;

“There is no doubt that climate change poses a significant threat to health systems across the world, and that its effects will touch the lives of everyone who lives in the UK, but with this threat comes a great opportunity to bring about practical change and empowerment, both in our health systems and in the communities in which we serve. It has been an honour to be able to be part of the development of this movement over the past three years and to see the passion and drive local leaders have demonstrated in delivering change in their own organisations.

Seeing NHS Sustainability Day become a national event in the diary of over 3/4’s of NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) in England has been inspirational but there is more to do. We must continue to take action, supporting each other to deliver change in times of turbulence; to continually engage within the changing landscape of the NHS, public health and social care systems in the UK; to excite and inspire the leaders of the future to take action to embed climate adaptation into their business as usual models. Each and every one of us is an agent for change and together we can make an extraordinary difference – a legacy of change we can be proud of”