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Dr Kate Charlesworth. Photo: Supplied

Public health physician discusses how hospitals can tackle climate change

This week climate change has been thrust to the forefront of national debate with catastrophic fires engulfing parts of the nation.

Australian summers already have devastating health effects on the community each year and the health system comes under increasing pressure. However, 7 per cent of all of Australia’s carbon pollution comes from health care, with hospitals and pharmaceuticals the major contributors.

Dr Kate Charlesworth is a public health physician and the sustainability lead at the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and she believes the health system could be doing more to tackle its waste.

She points to the UK as an example of what can be achieved. Over a period of 10 years they have reduced health care related emissions by 20 per cent, despite an increase in health care activity, and have seen savings in the region of one billion pounds.

Charlesworth argues that frontline workers have a big part to play and believes that nurses are a key group who “could be climate leaders” in our hospitals.

Charlesworth spoke with Nursing Review about her work and climate change in Australia.

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