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In a new report Addressing the Climate Challenge, published ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the University of Birmingham presents how its research can be put to practical use in tackling climate change. For the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC), Senior Fellow Steve Gulati and Senior Lecturer Catherine Weir explore contributions of the healthcare sector to reduce the UK’s environmental footprint, and they reflect on the role of leadership in developing policy for sustainable development.

Gulati and Weir argue that although adaptations such as e-consultations with GPs or remote self-monitoring for patients with pre-existing conditions have already existed for a time, it was the context of the pandemic that forced their wider adoption, in an aim to reduce the need for face-to-face appointments and hospital visits. Innovation led to patient empowerment and carbon reduction simultaneously (e.g. through reduced transportation emissions); the challenge now, the authors argue, is for the public sector leader to ensure the momentum for change is being maintained, strategic vision and partnerships developed:

“Necessity forced innovation, but innovation creates momentum, which leaders can both consolidate to ‘bank the gain’ but also use a platform for sustained policy change.”