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Towards a Net Zero NHS

Project Topic Overview

In 2020 the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) set out its ambition to become “net zero” for its direct emissions by 2040. In 2019, the NHS’s emissions totalled 25 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of which 62% came from the supply chain, 24% from the direct delivery of care, 10% from staff commute and patient and visitor travel, and 4% from private health and care services commissioned by the NHS. Both the acute and primary care sectors are the largest contributors to this carbon footprint.

There is an urgent need for new insights into how the UK NHS can achieve such significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. We invite interdisciplinary research proposals that seek to develop innovative frameworks and models designed to support this sustainability transition in the health care sector, for example, through re-designed clinical pathways, optimised services, as well as new forms of organisation and governance. Also, we aim to identify innovative approaches for models of (preventative) care as well as the management of medicines and their supply chains, transport, travel, healthcare estate, infrastructure, and other assets.

We welcome research proposals that recognise the critical interlinkages, including tensions and co-benefits, between climate action (SDG13), good health and wellbeing (SDG3), sustainable cities and communities (SDG11), as well as industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG9), responsible consumption and production (SDG12) affecting the development of sustainable solutions for healthy people and planet.

Potential research proposals could focus on distinguishing between direct interventions and enabling actions, identifying innovative practices both for health care practitioners and managers that enable GHG emissions reductions while at the same time helping to deliver equal if not better health care outcomes. Proposals should also consider other constraints such as access to finance and human resources, as well as broader considerations including health and social inequalities, patient expectations, education, digitalisation, sustainable cities and communities, as well as sustainable production and consumption to be taken into account.

The primary research focus of the project is the UK but would aim to generate insights for global application as well. Beyond contributing to the interconnected UN SDGs, the project seeks to produce and evaluate specific interventions designed to support the sustainability transition in the health care sector. Key outcomes of this project could therefore be new methodologies and frameworks that are based on both academic rigour and practical relevance.

Applicant Profile

Standard requirement for all projects: A good first degree (2:1 above or equivalent), a postgraduate degree/ or equivalent professional or research experience.

The scholarship is offered to applicants with outstanding academic profiles and research proposals. It normally includes UK fees and stipends.

Applicants are required to develop their own research proposals under this thematic topic. Please get in touch with the supervision team before submitting an application.

The supervisors are looking for a highly motivated individual to take this project ideas forward and make it their own. Applicants may come from a variety of different backgrounds including business or health management, health sciences, environmental sciences, and social sciences. Having an interest and/or experience with some of the following would be beneficial:

  • Sustainability, UN Sustainable Development Goals, climate change, environmental change
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Public and planetary health
  • Innovation management, digitalisation, procurement, change management
  • Carbon management, (sustainable) business models, green supply chain management

Applicants need to clearly outline how their background, interests and experience align with the proposed project ideas, aims and objectives and outline specific perspectives and research questions they would like to focus on.

Supervisory Team

Dr Frederik Dahlmann, Warwick Business School

Dr Dahlmann is Associate Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Warwick Business School. His research interests focus on understanding how organisations respond to and integrate global sustainability challenges such as the UN SDGs into their business strategies, management practices and corporate governance systems. Specifically, he examines how companies address climate change and reduce corporate carbon emissions across their organisations and supply chains, their engagement with multiple sustainability challenges such as the energy-food-water nexus, and the role of sustainable business models in driving industry transformation.

Dr Raquel Nunes, Warwick Medical School

Dr Nunes is Assistant Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at Warwick Medical School. She is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist with particular research interests in environment and health, extreme weather events, health emergency, disaster management and sustainable development. Her research aims to develop frameworks, typologies and solutions on different dimensions of environmental change and public health challenges. She has experience working across academia, the NHS and the World Health Organization (WHO). She is a co-author on the ‘WHO guidance on research methods for health emergency and disaster risk management’ book.

Professor Jeremy Dale, Warwick Medical School

Professor Dale is Professor of Primary Care at Warwick Medical School and a GP in Coventry. He is a health services researcher with extensive experience of qualitative studies, quantitative studies, and clinical trials. Research interests relate to the organisation and delivery of primary care, including its interfaces with emergency care and primary care, out of hours care; decision-making and decision support; the evaluation of new models of care; self-management in diabetes; and primary palliative care. Recent research activity has included work on primary care and climate change.