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NHS sustainability leadership scheme will now open to pharmacists ‘from next year’

By Isabel Shaw

06 May 2021

A pilot NHS sustainability leadership scheme that aims to take forward the green agenda in the health service will now open to pharmacists from next year, the Pharmacist has learned.

It comes after some pharmacy professionals expressed their frustration on Twitter at not being included in the scheme when applications launched earlier this week (4 May).

The Chief Sustainability Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme is targeted at clinicians passionate about sustainability and participants will work directly with senior NHS leaders to help embed net zero carbon principles across the health service.

It is currently only open to allied health professionals, doctors in training, nurses, public health specialist registrar trainees, and midwives.

However, a spokesperson for the two organisations running the scheme — Greener NHS and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) — confirmed to the Pharmacist today (6 May) that pharmacists will now be able to apply ‘from next year’.

‘It is great to see the passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by clinicians to support the delivery of the NHS net-zero ambition. All health professionals have a crucial role to play, along with all 1.3 million NHS staff,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Greener NHS has decided to limit eligibility in the inaugural year of the Chief Sustainability Officer’s clinical fellow scheme, to align with current resources and ensure an outstanding learning experience for the small number of fellows it will initially support.’

They added that Greener NHS is ‘exploring options’ to open the scheme to other professions such as healthcare scientists and dentists ‘in future years’.

Claire Anderson, chair of the English Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), told the Pharmacist that RPS had raised the initial exclusion of pharmacy professionals from the scheme with NHS England and the FLML.

She said: ‘The Chief Sustainability Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme is a great opportunity to help develop health and care leaders for the future and members of the pharmacy profession should be able to apply for this fellowship.

‘We’ve raised this with both NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management for clarification on the matter and want to see pharmacists and pharmacy technicians included in this programme.’

Pharmacists also questioned on Twitter why they were not considered a ‘relevant allied health profession’ as listed in the scheme’s eligibility criteria.

According to the scheme’s website, the five healthcare professionals who are accepted will be expected to step away from their clinical roles for 12 months to ‘lead on key projects that will fundamentally change the way that care is designed, developed and delivered across the system’.

It added: ‘Clinical fellows will gain a strong understanding of sustainability principles, leadership and management skills, and understanding of how policy is developed and implemented, as well as communication and collaboration skills.’

The scheme has been launched to support the NHS’s net-zero goal by 2040, along with its ambition to reach an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2028 to 2032.

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