The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“the College”) has launched a climate change digital archive, which documents the experiences of healthcare workers on the impact of climate change on health.

The climate crisis is already resulting in negative health impacts as a consequence of extreme weather, polluted air, food and water shortages, forced migration, and the aggravation of disease.

Participants include Professor Jill Belch OBE, Professor of Vascular Medicine at the University of Dundee and Professor Liz Grant, Chair of Global Health and Development at the University of Edinburgh. Other participants include Dr Sidrah Lodhi, who talks about her experiences working in Pakistan, and Professor Johannes Hugo, who discusses the extreme temperature increases in South Africa – a sign of future changes we can expect in the UK.

This ongoing project will not just be a stand-alone group of interviews, but rather each interviewee will be re-interviewed annually to capture the developing impact of climate change on their work and on healthcare more broadly.

The online archive contains not only full-length interviews but short excerpts which focus on key topics including the challenges Scotland faces, what we can do to bring about change, the obstacles to change and what the future looks like.

The archive will be useful for future understanding and research but will also help us to learn and develop solutions now. It contains stories from doctors trying to bring about change during a time of intense underfunding and understaffing. It also explores the future challenges we will face in the UK, and suggests some solutions to these challenges.

Commenting, archive curator Dr Daisy Cunynghame said:

This has been a really enlightening project to take part in. Many doctors have spent a great deal of time thinking about this problem and both how they can mitigate it, for example by reducing the use of disposable items, and also what can be done to prepare for the future.

These interviews uncover the extremes of the climate change related challenges facing doctors in countries such as Pakistan and South Africa, and in turn show how doctors in the UK are preparing for similar challenges here.

But, overall, what really came across to me was just how much doctors are thinking about the environmental impact of their work, as well as the impact of climate change on people’s health, and developing all sorts of projects to address this. It isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a lot of energy for change!


The Climate change archive can be accessed here