January 03, 2021

The medical emergency you can’t call 999 for – Climate Change.

Learn how you can get involved with health care and the climate change crisis from The Climate GP


OUT NOW: Our 5th podcast episode, ft. Dr Ellis:  listen here

For this week’s podcast, we are extremely excited to introduce our first guest! Please give a warm welcome to Dr Tamsin Ellis (@climateGP.) Dr Ellis is a newly qualified GP from North London, who is passionate about spreading the word about the impact climate change is having on healthcare and more importantly, what we, as healthcare professionals can do about it.


The impact of the climate on our health

You may not always consider the impact climate change is having on your very own health. Afterall, you only ever see pictures in the media of melting ice caps and rising temperatures. Yet, should we not take action, the threat to our own health is an equally terrifying prospect. Dr Ellis discusses the impending increasing incidence of respiratory diseases from polluted cities, drownings and even the appearance of diseases previously unfamiliar to European shores, including Dengue Fever and Malaria.


  The difference of one individual?

You may be reading this thinking, can I as a lone individual truly make a difference? As Dr Ellis discusses, it’s easy to feel as though your individual fight against climate change is futile. However, one of Dr Ellis’s aims, is to refute this statement, speaking about one phlebotomist’s mission to prove how much plastic one individual can get through in 6 months. Looking at the photograph of the accumulation of 6 months of discarded plastic caps, the impact a change in healthcare materials can have on the fight to become more sustainable is irrefutable.The amount of plastic needle caps used by one phlebotomist in 6 months

The Doctor-Patient Paradox

Dr Ellis describes her climate change awakening, as feeling similar to an ‘existential crisis’ following her decision to read ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ by David Wallace-Wells. Whilst speaking in the podcast and on her blog, she remarks that it appears almost paradoxical, that as doctors we advocate for the health of our patients and yet our daily activities of living may be endangering the health of future generations. After all, what is the point of advocating for patient health, if our very actions are responsible for the same diseases we see them presenting with?


The Importance of Systemic Change

In the podcast, Dr Ellis sheds some light on some of the incredible initiatives occurring within the NHS to improve sustainability. One of the leading names within this has been Barts Health NHS trust, which has already saved the NHS £9.2 million through their innovative ‘operation TLC.’ This revolves around the three basic principles off ‘turning equipment off’ ‘switching off lights’ and ‘closing doors.’ Interestingly, Dr Ellis remarked on the fact that the success of this initiative rocketed when coupled with a patient focus, by reminding healthcare professionals that this simple act saves the lives of our patients.


Moving Forward

So, what can we as healthcare professionals do about climate change? Dr Ellis gently reminds us, that it is about systemic change. This prompted her to join the ‘Health Declares Emergency’ voluntary group, comprised of healthcare professionals and environmental organisations. If you would like to sign the pledge for your commitment to combatting climate change, sign up using the link: https://healthdeclares.org/

If you would like further information about how you can get       involved, email contact@healthdeclares.org

The uninhabitable earth- David Wallace- Wells book cover  

It is important to feel as though you can question what you see, no matter what your position. Whether you are a medical student or a qualified doctor, we should all fight towards adopting more sustainable practice.


Thank you so much once again to our fantastic guest Dr Ellis! Please make sure to follow her on her social media (@climateGP.)


Listen to our podcast streaming now on Spotify!