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NHS Education for Scotland highlights ‘digital first’ in sustainability drive

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NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has declared a ‘digital first’ approach to the delivery of training and education for the country’s health service workforce.

It has made it one of the key issues in its newly published Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy for 2024-27.

The document says the approach also applies to the work of NES staff as far as possible in order to reduce carbon emissions.

“We are continuing with our approach to supporting remote-friendly working, education and training to encourage consideration of ‘digital first’ methods of service delivery to further reduce the impact of travel by staff, trainers and attendees,” it says.

“This will ensure that no unnecessary travel is undertaken for meetings, training or events that can be held effectively remotely. It will also establish provision of necessary support for all staff.”

It adds that NES travel policy will be reviewed to prioritise a digital approach, but also acknowledges that some areas of health and social care will continue to require in-person learning and says exceptions will be made.

Infrastructure and supply chains

The strategy also points towards a rationalisation of digital infrastructure and supply chains to create environmental benefits. This will involve a focus on three key outcomes: a reduction of costs and carbon emissions through removing waste in the system; a consolidation of services on common platforms; and enterprise architecture as a strategy to facilitate meeting sustainability objectives.

Other elements of the strategy include training for clinicians on sustainability requirements, procurement processes in which suppliers will have to provide assurance of reducing emissions, energy efficiency in capital projects and a reduction of unnecessary waste.

Karen Reed, chief executive of NES, said: “NES has a key role to play in raising and influencing awareness and understanding of the climate emergency.

“How we embed the principles of sustainability and sustainable care into our education, training and workforce development programmes for health and social care will help us progress towards achieving our climate goals.”

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